and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [acts 2:42]
it seems the unity in my marriage relationship is always under attack. sometimes the attack comes from outside places – we get separated by physical distance, a crisis outside our family consumes one of us, or our jobs land us in a season where we are totally occupied by work. the end result, we have little time or ability to live in any kind of relational intimacy. at other times, the attack is internal – we get selfish with our time, we get lazy in pursuit of one another, we get our feelings hurt, or we get consumed in other affections. the end result is similar to the outside attacks, relational intimacy suffers. the enemy knows the quickest and most effective way to ruin our marriage’s gospel impact is to attack our unity. he also knows that ultimately, disunity over a long period of time can kill our marriage. in a similar way, the enemy attacks the unity of the church.
the enemy cannot kill the world wide church, the greater body of our risen Savior Jesus Christ.
and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [matthew 16:18]
however, the enemy can ruin the gospel effectiveness of a local church, and if it cannot recover from this attack, it eventually dies, closes the doors. and, all this begins as the enemy attacks the unity of the body. make no mistake, the enemy has a strategy and an end goal in attacking our unity. his strategy, subtly disrupt the vertical relationship with God among individual members which eventually leads to a disruption in the horizontal relationships between members. his end goal, to ruin our gospel impact to the world around us and to one another, and ultimately, to bring death or the shutting of our doors.
thanks be to God we have a Savior who is stronger than the enemy! and, thanks be to God that he is constantly equipping us for the battle through His Spirit, the word, and his body! the early church was not perfect. don’t romanticize their existence as one without sin or troubles. please, read the book of acts and paul’s letters and you will see the dysfunction and trouble of these early churches. acts chapter 2 must be read in this light. the early church had a profound gospel impact not because they were perfect. rather, they had a profound gospel impact because they constantly fought for unity in Christ and God chose to bless their work. in verse 42, we get a glimpse into a few things that built their unity. spend the next moments asking for the presence of God to come and speak to your heart about unity in the body. wait on him as you read this verse asking the following questions and voicing the prayers at the end of each question.
- what am i devoted to? LORD, how does this devotion affect my unity in the body?
- where is God calling me to repentance in this passage? LORD, what does this repentance look like?
and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [acts2:42]
imagine what could happen to our gospel impact in this world and our body if we had a common devotion to Jesus that evidenced itself in our devotion to his word, his body, and prayer? imagine what God would do in our midst? imagine what the world would say about our God?
today, let’s don’t just imagine. let’s trust that God can and will increase our gospel impact as our unity grows.
o LORD, through your Spirit, increase our devotion to you. may this increase our unity and protect us from the evil one. in the name of Jesus and for the fame of Jesus, amen!
~ john ryan