If you had to narrow it down to only two things, what would they be? I’m asking in regard to the title of this post: two vital things the church needs to do. What do you think? Before you read on to my suggested answer, take a minute and consider how you might answer.
I’d like to suggest that the two vital things are included in Jesus’ last words to his disciples. We’ve been studying Acts 1 this week, and there Jesus last words are: Wait and Witness. From this we have learned in Acts 1 that we can and should wait for the Spirit’s empowerment, and especially do so by a commitment to prayer. Next we witness, which is telling others the story of God’s work in our lives.
So how do we live out our identity in the world? The first Christians show us that we are to be a people of prayer, waiting for the empowerment of the Spirit. As we learned in the Identity sermon on the Spirit (first of five posts starting here) a few weeks ago, we are indwelled with the Spirit when we give our lives to Jesus, but that indwelling is different from filling. This is why prayer is vital. Prayer is one of the primary ways that we abide in the Spirit, showing him that we are depending on him.
If you think about it, prayer is strange if you are looking at it from a nonspiritual point of view. You are talking to thin air. You are listening for God to speak. You have a relationship with an invisible spirit, and you are talking with that spirit? Really?
Yes, really! By faith we believe that God is not only real, but desires to be in real relationship with us. And not just as individuals, he also desires to be with us as a group. Jesus once said, “When two or three are gathered, there am I with them.” There is something uniquely important, then, about Christians who gather for prayer, just as the first Christians did, to wait on the Lord.
This is why we have formal church prayer meetings, and it is why Christians gather for prayer in many other places and ways. Let us be a people committed to prayer.
This is also why we commit ourselves to a high percentage of gathering for worship. We need each other.
Finally, let us be a people who tell our story. To whom can you tell the story of how God has been at work in your life? I think it is best to tell the recent stories.
How has God provided for you recently? How has God revealed himself to you lately? What are you learning about God? Who are you telling the story to?