"And day by day, attending the temple together . . ." Acts 2:46
The city. Over half of people on this earth live in cities. The attraction to the city is understandable. Stunning architecture, arts and cultural events, and jobs and money. Cities have their share of threats – poverty, pollution, and pressure. It can be dangerous and drug-ridden, a desperate dumping place of broken dreams with streets lined with gutted buildings and abandoned remains.
However, the Bible states that God is a city-dweller. And the goal of His people is to live in a heavenly city filled with His glory. The Bible speaks of a holy city coming down out of heaven. It's a place where a crowd of people live together in peace. We were made to live together with each other and with God.
When you pack a city with people who are filled with the Spirit, the crowd will gather in peace, or praise and power. The church is to be the picture of the future heavenly community. Yet, the higher we value privacy and freedom, the shallower our grasp becomes on our need to be connected to the church. A cheapened view of church manifests itself in our objections to it.
The early church faced common objections of involvement. "I'm too busy," our schedules are too full to fit in connection to the people of faith. Our lack of margin has choked out our interest in the Kingdom of God. "Church makes those around me nervous," casual interest in the things of God will melt under the heat of opposition. "I can't get too involved," scripture warns if we close our heart, the love of God can't abide in us. Our self-interest suffocates our love towards others.
The point is it was not easier in the first century than it is in ours to connect and stay together in authentic Christian community. There were no fewer distractions, temptations, and selfish individualism. Yet, the early church was gathering people who made time to eat, share, and serve together. The force which bound them together wasn’t religious coercion, it was the great grace of God. They delighted in being a part of the family of God. So should we.
What would happen if we took God at His word when He describes the church?