The days leading up to the formation of the Christian Church were a roller coaster for the early believers. From the despair of the Crucifixion to the ecstasy of the Resurrection, they had been on quite a ride. Then, following forty days of post-mortem appearances, Jesus topped it off by ascending into Heaven before the very eyes of His followers.
With Jesus gone (again), His followers returned to Jerusalem to await whatever was to happen next. They continued to meet together over the next ten days, though mostly in seclusion in an upper room in one of the local dwellings.
Then it happened. On the tenth day—the Day of Pentecost—the Holy Spirit descended upon those believers. They were filled and empowered by the Spirit, then they went out into the streets to tell everyone they met about Jesus. Thousands of people heard what they had to say, responded to their message, and became followers of Jesus that very day.
Acts 2 records the events of that day, recognized as the birthday of the Church. It tells of the Church’s formation, while also describing how the newly-formed Church functioned.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.” (Acts 2:42-47, NLT)
This community of believers was devoted to one another. They hung out together, they ate together, they learned together, they worshipped together, they experienced life together.
Though the Christian Church has grown and evolved since that day nearly 2000 year ago, the same sense of community defines what we are today. As loyal as the early believers were to each other, we must be loyal to each other. As followers of Jesus, we believe in one another. We refuse to gossip, we rush to defend, and we are quick to help one another. We worship together, celebrate together, grieve together, and experience life together.
From this sense of community emerges an atmosphere of safety and vulnerability. We are free to be honest about who we are, about our strengths and weaknesses, and about what God is doing in our lives. There is truly nothing like being part of the Body of Christ, the Church.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all… We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:2-6, 15-16, NLT)