Have you ever wondered why we don’t witness as many miracles in the church today as they experienced in the early church? If you’ve read widely about the workings of the Lord around the world today, you may have asked yourself why Christians in third world countries seem to experience more miracles than we do in the United States. I’m not saying miracles don’t happen here – we’ve experienced many in our own family, as I’m sure you have in yours. But miracles certainly aren’t as common as they once were, or as they still are in some places. Added to that, the Church in America seems to be shrinking, while the Church in other places is growing exponentially.
I believed this was due to two main factors: the materialism Americans worship (yes, even Christians) and the fact that the Western world is too “sophisticated” for true faith. However, I recently had an epiphany. In November, the CUPC Adult Sunday School class studied “Sharing Love”, beginning with Acts 4:32-33. “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” It was a good study, and we had a good discussion.
The next morning, I opened up another study; the main Scripture was Acts 2:42-47. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Something clicked in my heart . . . these are passages we’re all read countless times, but suddenly words jumped off the page at me: One heart and soul. Continued steadfastly. Doctrine. Fellowship. Breaking of bread. Prayer. Together. With one accord. Gladness. Simplicity of heart. Praise. The results: many wonders and signs; favor with all the people; great power; great grace. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Here’s what I see now. The early church met together daily, not just once a week, to study the Word and to fellowship together. They didn’t just celebrate communion once a month; they did it every time they ate together, which they did frequently, if not daily. They were TOGETHER. They didn’t say to a prayer need “I’ll pray for you.” They prayed right then and there, TOGETHER. They prayed without ceasing. They were filled with joy; they believed and lived the simple truth of the Gospel of Christ; they praised God continually.
In a small village in Asia or South America or Africa, where Christians live in close proximity and gather and worship together in simplicity and joy and gratitude and caring for one another – where they are TOGETHER – God performs miracles of healing and salvation and protection. So what do we do with this insight? It’s not practical for us to sell our homes and possessions and all move in next door to each other so we can live together in physical proximity. But I think during this time of COVID restrictions, we have begun instinctively to practice more togetherness by reaching out to each other with greater frequency than before. I think that we need to be even more intensive and intentional with this touching of each other and concern for one another and that we must plan now to carry it on past the restrictions and the isolation of COVID. When this is all over, we must continue and increase our fellowship with one another, and our gathering together to study the Word and to pray, whether in small home meetings, by twos and threes, or using ZOOM and other technologies (now that we’ve mastered it!). Whatever, we need to be of one accord in our determination to draw closer to our Lord and Father and to each other. When we do this, we will again see the miracles God desires to work in our lives, and we will see the Church grow.