The love of God, that resulted in God giving His Son to save us, is to be the sign of the church. Just as in the early church, this love can be put into action every day in the churches — the gathering of believers — in our homes. How can this perfect love, this great mission, be put into action in our cell churches?
The early church, described in the New Testament, is our amazing example. The church started out with about 120 followers of Jesus, who after his death were demoralized, sad, and starting to scatter. Yet after they encountered the risen Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, suddenly “multitudes” flocked to join them in believing in Jesus. That’s thousands of new converts in a single day, and more and more each day!
Believers gathered every day in homes, in “places of prayer” and in the temple to listen to the apostles’ powerful teaching. Even the religious leaders, who wanted to put an end to the whole “Jesus problem” were astonished at the confidence of the believers, and “took note that they had been with Jesus.” Many people were healed of sicknesses, and unclean spirits were cast out. No wonder people took notice.
The believers gathered daily in homes (not just once a week for an hour or two) to fellowship, to eat meals together and partake in the Lord’s Supper, to fast and pray together. These meetings weren’t a duty; they were a joyful gathering of people excited about Jesus their Saviour! Holy living was demanded of the believers; they understood clearly that obedience to God, walking like Jesus, is the proof that we love God. When believers were persecuted by the religious establishment, they gathered in the homes and praised God that they had “been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” When there were problems in the church, such as unequal food distribution, it was taken care of quickly and fairly. Many of the believers were very poor, so those who had land, houses, and possessions sold their things and shared with the others so that “no one was needy!” Everyone, even the poor, donated joyfully according to their ability.
The believers all participated in the life of the church according to their spiritual gifts and their talents. Every gift was used and valued; for example, we read of the joy of the believers when Dorcas, who sewed clothes for the needy, was brought back to life. The apostles and prophets moved from house to house, and town to town, going wherever God led them, staying in the homes of the believers, teaching and preaching and encouraging the church. When they recognized a gifting in a believer, they laid hands on them, after prayer and fasting, and sent them out to use their ability.
This is a what a real, living, Spirit-filled, Jesus-loving church looks like: joyfully spreading the good news of the love of Jesus, sharing our homes, being there for each other every day, giving up our things and sharing all we have, encouraging and loving those who are suffering, using our gifts every day to help each other. Do our home churches, our life cells, truly show God’s love?
(quotations from the book of Acts)
Date: February 2006