The Walls of Our Church

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought those who were ill into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing those who were ill and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed … 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.  (Acts 5:12-16&42)
 
1 Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ He answered me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.’ 3 While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him 4 and said to him: ‘Run, tell that young man, “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,” declares the Lord, “and I will be its glory within.”’  (Zechariah 2:1-5)
What are you praying that our church will be like when we can all finally gather back together after Covid-19? One of the reasons why we are going through Acts 1-8 as a church is that we want the Lord to shape our prayers to him. We want to be praying for a post-lockdown church which looks like the original church he planted in Jerusalem.

This, we discover, was a church without walls. Since the early Christians didn’t own their own building, they met every day in the biggest public square in Jerusalem. The Temple courtyards were sacred space, but they were also where the city gathered each day to socialise with one another and to chat about what was happening in their city. “Solomon’s Colonnade” was a covered walkway within the Temple courtyards where there was enough shade from the hot sun for a crowd to gather comfortably to be church together. This was the place in the Temple courtyards where Jesus had gathered people to teach and heal them (see Luke 20:1 and 22:53, and John 10:23). In Acts 5, we discover that it was also where the Christians gathered together for their corporate daily worship times.

The church was a distinct community. We are told that people “believed in the Lord and were added to their number.” But the church wasn’t hidden away in a public building, far away from those who needed to hear the Good News about Jesus. People thought twice about joining them, having heard about what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, but they couldn’t resist the lure of people who were so visible and who were so visibly different to the other people in town.
As a result, people began to turn the streets of Jerusalem into the aisles of the church. People brought those who were ill into the streets so that Peter or one of the other apostles might pass by them and heal them. Soon, people were coming to Jerusalem from out of town in order to seek healing and deliverance through the name of Jesus. The Early Church began to fulfil the ancient promise that the Lord had made to the city of Jerusalem. They became a church without walls, a church that refused to turn in on itself and that existed for the sake of the least, the lost and the lonely all around them, who needed to discover what those Christians had in Jesus.

One of the unforeseen upsides to the traumatic past eighteen months has been that churches all across our nation have become churches without walls. Instead of closing down the church, the devil has merely succeeded in breaking the church out of its protective buildings so that it can become more visible and more active in the surrounding community. Whatever life looks like for us as a church together after Covid-19, let’s be the church that is described in Zechariah 2:1-5 and Acts 5:12-16. Let’s be a church without walls.
1)   In what ways do you think we had become inward-looking as a church before Covid-19 hit us?

2)   How have you seen the Lord changing this in us over the past 18 months?

3)   What do you think the Lord wants us to be like as a church when we come back together? Be really practical – what do you think it really means for us to be a church without walls?
Father God, I thank you that you have been in control of the ups-and-downs of the past year and a half. Thank you that you are so good that you can even turn what is evil around for good. I therefore pray that you would do a deep work within Everyday Church as we gather all back together after Covid-19. Please help us to be the church that is described in Zechariah 2 and Acts 5. Please help us to be a church without walls, for your own great glory. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.

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