Does this sound like the description of a Church you know, or what you figure Churches are about?
The people of the Church were inconsistent and often
gave up on studying the Bible. The community was apathetic and unconnected,
rarely sharing more than shallow conversation and white-washed prayer requests. The teachers among them could not bring about
healing or miracles because of the lack of belief among them. The people
treated the signs God did give them with disinterest and irreverence. They
found it difficult to trust and rely on Jesus Christ, which made adhering to
his teachings a struggle. The people couldn’t live in harmony or unite over
their similarities; they couldn’t see all that they had in common. And when
those among them were in need they couldn’t find it in their hearts to share
their belongings, they had no money to spare and hoarded all their possessions for
themselves. While the people found their
way to Church most Sundays, they were too busy to stay after Church to
fellowship, they would go their separate ways, each to their own homes, and not
stay in touch throughout the week. Their
choices produced lives they could not celebrate, they felt they had no reason
to praise God, and their hypocrisy lost the respect of those who knew them. The
number of their Church community dwindled every day.
This is actually a translation of Acts 2:42-47, a translation called 'the Jon Courtney Jr. Reverse' translation. We were priveleged to hear this one time only reading last week at Church and boy did it make a point. Quite a few of the Churches I have known, or have heard about from jaded friends, has sounded a lot more like the opposite description of the Acts Church, the community that added thousands to it's numbers consistently. Here is how they actually did that:
42And they steadfastly persevered,
devoting themselves constantly to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship.
They shared everything with each other, they shared life together, the breaking
of bread, and the prayers.
43 Everyone around was in awe,
and were in reverential fear, at all those wonders and miraculous signs done
through the apostles! And everyone felt great respect for God.
44 And all who believed (those who
adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united, living in a
wonderful harmony, holding everything in common.
45 And according
as any had need they sold their possessions and their land, pooling their
resources so that each person’s need was met.
46 They followed a daily discipline of worship
in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration. They partook
of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts.
47 The believers praised God and
were respected by all the people. More and more people were being saved every
day, and the Lord was adding them to their group.
I am so glad I found a community of believers who are closer to the second than first translation, a blessing to be sure.