Gathering Matters

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
 
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:23-25)
We have just lived through one of the most unusual years in Church history. We have not been permitted by the government to gather together in person. I know that we have been able to gather together online, and I know that Christians in some parts of the world are not even permitted to do that, but it has still been a most unusual year for us. It means that we need to read verses like these ones very carefully.

The “they” in Acts 2:42 doesn’t just refer to the hundred and twenty believers who gathered together on the Day of Pentecost. It also refers to the three thousand new converts who were baptised and added to their number on that day. The big thing that Luke tells us marked their experience of Christianity was that “they devoted themselves” to certain things together. The Greek word proskartereo, which is translated here as “devoted”, means literally to glue yourself to something. These believers either came out of lockdown (in the case of the 120) or they came into Christianity (in the case of the 3000) with a real determination that nothing was going to get in the way of their devotion to gathering together to do four things.

They would devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching (that is, to their messages from the Old Testament and to their teachings which would become the New Testament). They would devote themselves to fellowship – that is, to living in community with one another. They would devote themselves to breaking bread together – that is, to taking communion together and building friendship over shared meals together. They would devote themselves to prayer together too – that is, to grateful worship and to fervent intercession. We are told that these four things were so essential to them that they met together daily, either in large gatherings in the temple courtyards (akin to our Sunday services) or in smaller gatherings in each other’s homes (akin to our Life Groups).

The book of Hebrews was written thirty-five years later. The verses that we read today reveal that certain believers had lost sight of this initial devotion and had begun to devalue the importance of gathering together. The writer of the book of Hebrews therefore reminds his readers that meeting together matters massively. He tells them that they need to gather regularly with other believers to encourage one another, and that their passion for this should increase rather than decrease over time.
  1. How have you found the past year when we have been unable to gather together in person? What have been the hardest aspects of the year? What have been the unexpected blessings?
  2. How do you feel about our renewed freedom to begin regathering back together in person?
  3. How are you going to live out these verses over the next few weeks? Have you already booked your free tickets for a Sunday church service soon? Have you already become part of a Life Group? If you haven’t, then go to www.everyday.org.uk/life-groups and we would love to help you to devote yourself to one of them.
Father God, I thank you that you have given me a church family. I have found it hard, at times, to follow you during this year of coronavirus lockdown and I’m grateful that the restrictions are beginning to lift on church gatherings. Please help me to feel the same passion as the first believers for the idea of gathering with my Christian brothers and sisters throughout each week. Help me to live as a devoted member of your church family. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.

If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.

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