What the Church Ought to Look Like
If Acts 4:32-37 were printed (without the reference to “the Lord Jesus”) in our local newspapers or broadcast on the nightly news, immediately we would think this was another David Koresh or Jim Jones cult and shake our heads at these religious fanatics who mindlessly throw their lives away into the hands of some demented control freak with a Messiah complex.
Yet when we talk about what the Church ought to look like, this description in Acts is one of the first things that comes to mind. There is something compelling about this group of people who share everything and exhibit genuine love and care for one another, even for those who they’ve never met miles away! But this quality of community life didn’t come about spontaneously. It required a high level of commitment from each person. It required hard work to maintain their focus and integrity as can be seen in the next story about Ananias and Sapphira. Most of all, it required each one setting aside a personal agenda for the well-being of the larger community.
The lack of well-being in the community is why our churches today are having such difficulty. Individual rights and personal freedom are the most protected and valued laws in society today, but this kind of individualism in the Church will chip away at the very core and foundation of what the Church is about. What those around us desperately need to see is an alternative to the self-seeking, power-hungry, trivialized society we live in today. This alternative is a community of people who can live together in reconciled relationship characterized by genuine love and concern for one another, where individualism is repudiated and the greater good is embraced. This is what the Church is called to be—an alternative presence in the world. Only then will the world be compelled to seek Christ.
—Ms. Susie Wong
- Who or what first attracted you to Christ? Why was this compelling to you?
- What things do you or your congregation say about its attractiveness to non-believers? Compare this with the church in Acts 4.
- What steps would you need to take in your personal life to be part of the congregation in Acts 4? Read Acts 5:1-11 for some additional perspective.
How Do I Act?
- Read Revelation 2 and 3. Altogether, these seven churches characterize what Jesus intends for his Church. List his commendations and condemnations of these churches.
- Make a list of what Jesus would commend and condemn about your church if he were to visit and worship.
- Now think about what changes or emphases in your local congregation need to be made in order to be Christ’s alternative presence in your community. Speak to your pastor and session about this process and the direction and focus of your congregational life together.
- Pray for change.