Acts 2:47 "And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

The Jerusalem church was an incredibly large congregation. It began with 3000 (Acts 2:41). We average around 700 Sunday morning—we are not nearly as “big” as they where when they began! That number grew daily! By Acts 4:4 the number of men was about 5000. After the Christians Ananias and Sapphira died for lying, multitudes of men and women became disciples (Acts 5:14). The group was still increasing in number in Acts 6:1. By Acts 21:20, Christians in Jerusalem numbered in the tens of thousands.

An incredible fact: they did not define congregation as we define congregation. Though bigger than most of us can imagine, they had no building—as far as we know, they never had one. The church in Jerusalem was Jewish people who were called out from those who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah in order to be Jesus’ disciples. He was their teacher and example. He taught them how to live as they focused on God’s purposes.

In this incredible growth in just Jerusalem, followers of Jesus Christ developed and maintained a sense of community. They cared about each other. When that caring was threatened in Acts 6, the twelve challenged the church to resolve differences effectively as they maintained caring. I wish I understood how they developed and sustained this sense of community. I wish all of us better understood how to be a genuine community of disciples who let Jesus be Lord as God’s promised Christ as we seek to serve.

I deeply love my country. I frequently wonder why I am so blessed to be a citizen of this nation. However, I grieve when our culture dictates the nature of Christian-Christian relationships. All of us could cite both the good and undesirable in our culture. A common undesirable characteristic of our culture: we are an extremely consumer-minded people. For many, the first thing considered is this: “What is in it for me? What will I get out of it?” Thankfully, Jesus did not look at life as many Americans do. What was “in it” for Jesus was a cross. What he “got out of it” was death.

When anything happens in this congregation, someone does it—teaching, song leading, preaching, leading, van driving, visiting, encouraging, temperature control, leak stoppage, repairs, sermon tape duplication, quilting, cooking for fellowships, setting up for fellowships, storing after fellowships, office work, planning, etc. Nothing just happens.

Jesus Christ made us a community of disciples who realize only he can show us (1) how to care and (2) the way to God. Please, help “make it happen.” Sure, it takes funds. It also takes manpower. Give generously. Serve thoughtfully. As in any thriving community, both expect and give, but never abuse. Do not attempt what you cannot do, but do what you can—many will be encouraged and blessed. Included in that "many" will be you! Be a good American, but also be a good disciple of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14 "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 31 March 2005

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