And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 ESV)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in Denver, you’ve heard the Denver Broncos football team has finally acquired a competent quarterback after years of subpar choices. Sportscasters are now sprinkling their commentaries with talk about a potential Super Bowl victory. Every player (a superstar in the making) is being analyzed and their abilities are projected for the coming season.
How does this remind me of the early days of the Church in the book of Acts? Here are some similarities: electric excitement, gathering together for strategy sessions, being wowed by the skills and intelligence of players, shared meals, interviews highlighting how victory has now emerged from defeat, declaring love for being part of the team, and letting interested outsiders know why future glory could arise.
But, just like the Broncos’ formation of a reassembled and newly supplemented team with a bevy of new coaches, most of the early days of the Church in Acts 1 and 2 depict activity prior to facing very formidable opponents – it was still the pre-pre season.
The early Church’s basic activities are described above in Acts 2:42. Are those four elements (teaching, fellowship, common meals, and prayer) a magic formula that will ensure a particular group of believers will win the Church Super Bowl over and over again?
No football player, even if he is a superb athlete, can become polished in his position on a team without devotion to “the playbook” designed by the coaches. Likewise, devotion to Jesus’ teaching is one central feature of the Church that has led to forming a strong body (or team)…a body prepared to successfully meet inevitable opponents.
Sound teaching is essential to building a growing, persevering Church. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John warned against false teachers and encouraged sound doctrine (Matthew 7:15-20, Acts 20:29, 1 Timothy 6:3, 2 John 1:9, Titus 1:9)…and sometimes stated outright that teaching centered around God’s interests is difficult to maintain.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them, the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:1-2)
So a clear understanding of Jesus’ words is one of the main components of a healthy, overcoming Church – one of the ways we host the presence of God in our midst and gain strength to do our part in building the Kingdom of God.
As you prepare to meet with other believers, friends, coworkers, and family this summer, seek ways to “set your table” to welcome the presence and wisdom of our Master and King.