There is an old joke that illustrates the difference between participation and commitment; when one considers a ham and egg breakfast it is easy to understand that while the chicken was an active participant, the pig was committed to the meal.
It is quite easy to participate in a religious activity without being fully committed to anything. There are some that habitually attend church on Christmas and Easter who are as devoted as a few that attend a place of worship every week. To be clear, I am not being critical of religious activity. Every person that contributes to the work of the Church is engaged in an honorable task and it would be very wrong of me to judge the motives of others. The question I ask is are we as a church body committed to the right tasks or more to the business of running a church? In three verses of the book of Acts a picture of the activities of the first church is presented.
Acts 2:42 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:46-47 (ESV) And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
There are four commitments found in these verses;
1. You ought to be committed to the word of God. The apostles teaching came directly from Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Ultimately God used apostles to write the new testament. It is noteworthy that when confronted by the religious elite of the day the apostles used scripture to prove their message. The followers of the first church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. Do we place the right emphasis on bible study?
2. You ought to be committed to corporate worship. Corporate worship includes attending church service and also fellowship. Verse 46 tells us the people were attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes. In addition they did this with glad and generous hearts and not as an obligation. Is it enough to only attend Sunday service and not create opportunities to share meals and conversation with other believers?
3. You ought to be committed to sharing the gospel. This conclusion can be drawn from verse 47, praising God and having favor with all people by itself would not have accounted for the Lord adding to their numbers day by day. We are clearly commanded to share the gospel with others. Do you think local congregations would be in decline if all Christians made it a priority to share the gospel?
4. You ought to be committed to prayer. We see in verse 42 the early believers were devoted to prayer. Like any discipline prayer requires practice and commitment. Is it possible that reading the bible, corporate worship, and sharing the gospel has lost a sense of importance because many have abandoned prayer?
As I ponder these four commitments of the first church I wonder if this simple formula is all God intended for believers to devote themselves to while on earth. We have been given scripture to know God and His desire for us. While scripture is clear about the role of church leaders corporate worship can occur in a variety of settings such as a church building, homes, hospitals, battlefields, prison, or anywhere else people may gather. It is a great honor to be given the privilege of sharing the gospel as well as a commission from Christ. Prayer in its simplest form is talking with God. What an honor to be able to fellowship with the creator of the universe. Maybe we have gotten a little confused about what the real business of church is.
Rev. Burt Schwab