“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46).
Here’s a key to the amazing growth of the early church.
They ate together.
Acts 2:42-47 offers us a glimpse of the earliest days of the Christian movement. Three times this passage mentions that the first Christians ate together. Sometimes ministers joke that if you want to get a group out, you’ve got to have pie and coffee. But a biblical truth lies hidden in plain view. In the earliest days of the church, believers ate together every day. The church that eats together will stay together, will play together, will pray together, and will grow together. I call this the First Rule of Church Growth: “If you feed them, they will come.” Thousands of Wednesday night suppers have proved it to be true.
Togetherness matters because we live in increasing isolation from each other. Our technology has made it easier than ever to avoid human contact. Look at the average family. We have our own cars, our own rooms, our own cellphones, and our own computers. We can work at home if we want, thus avoiding the messy problem of dealing with people face to face. Our quest for privacy has come at the cost of enormous personal loneliness.
At the heart of our faith stands a table where we gather to share a meal. In the early church believers shared a meal (the love feast) that climaxed in the Lord’s Supper. Christmas offers us a wonderful opportunity to recapture this ancient ritual of gathering, eating, and sharing. We can encourage each other over a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat or by inviting others to join us around our dining room table.
In his book The Church at the End of the 20th Century, Francis Schaeffer explains how to begin:
"Start personally and start in your homes. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community."
In the early church believers were “sharing meals with simple joy” (Phillips). From a tiny beginning in Jerusalem the message reached to the heart of the Roman Empire in just one generation. It happened because ordinary believers opened their homes and said to their brothers and sisters, "Come on in. You can stay with us while you are spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Anyone could do that. It doesn’t require a lot of money or fine china.
Would you like a Simple Christmas this year? Do what the first Christians did. Open your heart, your home, and your pantry.
Invite others to join you.
Jesus will meet you there.
Lord Jesus, you loved the lonely and helped the hurting. Give me a heart like yours to spread your joy this Christmas season. Amen.
Musical bonus: I’m glad a friend suggested Jesus is Alive by Josh Wilson. We celebrate the birth of Christ 2000 years ago because he is still alive today.
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