”And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts…” (Acts 2:42; 46).
This is a “classic” passage, giving us a vivid picture of church life that followed (and was the result of) some of the greatest events on earth: the crucifixion; resurrection; ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
A new “movement” – the Way was making its entrance on the world’s stage, constantly expanding across the globe.
A new way to God…a new way to live…a new people: God’s people.
For a while, the young church continued to live as it is described in Acts 2:42-47. Three events had left their marks on the life of the church.
Shortly persecution (Acts 8:1) started against the new movement, perceived as a danger to the existing establishment: religious and political. A number of believers left Jerusalem and settled elsewhere.
In 70AD Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple destroyed.
In 306AD Constantine became the emperor and with him, Christianity was given the status of religion licita and became the religion of the court.
Some of the effects of this “favour” are with us today.
While we retained the “labels” of certain initial Christian characteristics (apostles’ teaching, prayer, fellowship, breaking of bread), the practice has changed considerably, losing their initial pathos.
Back to the young church. With Jesus, the Temple started to grow less significant, while the home became an important place of worship. The young church grew around the table in people’s homes.
Questions to ponder: “To what extent, the church today, has become a place hard to access (for different reasons)?” and “What is the difference between a church and a home group?”