Wednesday, July 06, 2005

To what are we devoted?

Many, many people desire to re-create the “life of the early church”, as if one could archeologically dig up the past and recreate it in the present. As Orthodox, we have actually received the gift and life of the Church, and so for us, some artificial recreation, as if a museum, is not necessary—we simply need to grab hold of the gift and offer ourselves to partake of it fully. Consider this famous passage from Acts 2:42ff:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of 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.

To what does the Church devote herself? That is, in what ways does the Christian live his life in community? In studying, knowing, living the “Apostles’ teaching and fellowship”; in eating together—liturgically (Eucharist) and socially (like our potlucks?); in praying together. These were their devotions—not compartments, but their whole lives! They held “all things in common”; they sold their possessions to be able to give to all who had need. Daily, they prayed together, broke bread together, were friendly with all.

The Faith we have received both teaches us these things and offers us the venue to put them all into full action. One result of living in the fullness of the Christian life, is contagion. Notice that the Lord “added to their number day by day…” In the verses preceding, 3000 souls were baptized in response to life like this. What a marvelous treasury we have at our disposal! How truly transformational is the pure life in Christ! This is evangelism—the living of the Gospel.

As we continue to plan and prepare for the building of a literal Church, let us urge one another on to the life of the Body of Christ as we can read in these wonderful passages. O Lord, teach me to love You and my neighbor: fully, really, totally, indiscriminately, constantly!

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