Quick, put out an APB! There’s a word that has vanished from the church vocabulary. When I say vanished, I mean it is gone . . . like the fiz in yesterday’s Coca-Cola . . . like Gone In 60 Seconds . . . like vamoose, skedaddle, evaporate!
By now I hope you are wondering, “What word have we lost?” It is the word, Churchmen. Search for the word and you'll find a range of meanings, but here's the one I call to mind: Churchmen: an active supporter of the work of the church. Example: Jim was a great churchman!
Ladies, please pardon the masculinity. The word is gender neutral in my mind, more importantly, it is gender neutral in God’s mind. Church men and women were simply--or not so simply--men and women devoted to the family of God. They used to be the norm. In fact, it was that unfettered devotion that made the church IRRESISTIBLE! Luke gives us a glimpse of great churchmen in Acts 2:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 ESV
I'm going to be straight-up. Today's post is a little pointed. I see five characteristics of great churchmen in Acts 2. I'd like you to read the list with one eye toward them and one eye toward yourself.
- It’s not about me!There wasn't any "church shopping" in this group. People were not consumed with which church had the best music, the cleverest preacher, or the most programs for their family. "THEY" took precedence over "ME."
- I'm all in! I had a blast watching NFL football this past year. When I think of "all in" I think of the Green Bay Packers. How else can you describe fans who sit in sub-zero weather, with blocks of cheese on their heads, and hugging players who leap into the stands after scoring a touchdown. That's definitely "all in!” But the early church had a holy frenzy that put Packer fans to shame: And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
- Only God!There wasn’t just an element of the supernatural in this church. God’s presence among those people was so powerful that it made Close Encounters Of The Third Kind look like a trip to Disney's Country Bear Jamboree. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. They saw the kind of supernatural work to which one can say, "Only God could do that!"
- Whatever it takes!There was a spirit of extravagant generosity among the church of the first century: "If you had a need when you walked in the doors, you didn't have it when you walked out." And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
- Let's get together today! Church wasn't just a weekly thing among those churchmen. Church was a daily thing. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts. If they lived in our day, I suspect they would be having each other over for dinner, calling to pray on the phone, sending text messages to encourage, meeting often in smaller groups, and gathering every week to worship.
Did you see what God was doing among that group? And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
God's work among them was amazing: And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
This was a church of irresistible influence.
I want to ask you to stop for just a moment today and ask yourself this question: "Can what be said of them, be said of me?" What does it look like for you to become a better churchman (or woman) for God?