Joy in the Church…What’s missing? (part five)

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“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, and to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” The early church got their joy from Jesus, but they expressed their joy and they experienced their joy as they did those four things.

Let’s consider the last two together. Eating together and worshiping.

They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread. Nearly all scholars think that this is a reference to celebrating the Lord’s Supper. They didn’t just do it once in a while. Remembering Jesus death was so central to their lives that they did it all the time. But the breaking of bread meant more than that, because verse 46 says that “they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”

They didn’t just meet together in large gatherings for worship; they also had small group meetings in homes. And eating together was a key part of that, because it creates a bond, moves us toward reconciliation, even anticipates the heavenly banquet when we shall all eat and drink with Jesus. The recent popularity of small groups isn’t some new fangled fad; it’s a return to the early church. If there isn’t joy in church today, maybe it’s because we’ve forgotten the centrality of eating together in the Lord’s Supper and in small groups (hospitality).

Finally, they devoted themselves to prayer, and to worship. “Every day they continued together in the temple courts,” joining in the normal times of prayer in the Temple. Every day they worshiped God in prayer and praise. Further, says verse 43, God was obviously working in their midst. “Everyone was filled with awe and many signs and wonders were done by the apostles.”

Not only did they hear the Word of God every day, but they saw the hand of God. And it created this sense of awe and wonder and mystery and reverence and transcendence. They weren’t just going through religious motions; they were in touch with God in worship and God touched them. If there isn’t joy in church, perhaps it’s because we aren’t devoted to reaching up to God in worship and expecting him to reach down to us in wondrous ways.

So here are a few questions.

Who have you been hospitable to lately?

Whose hospitality have you enjoyed lately?

When did you last celebrate God’s power on display?

Did you find joy in any of these moments?

Maybe that was the church in which you just found joy.


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