The Essentials of the Christian Life.
Read Acts 2:37-42
"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, and to breaking of bread and to prayer."
The key to success is not found in the complex but the simple. It is identifying the essential elements for a job and then doing them well. This is true whether it be a professional sports team, a successful business, or proficiency in a specific hobby. The same is true in our spiritual life. Spiritual maturity is not attained by mastering the most profound theological topic or knowing every detail of the Bible (although these are important). The key to developing a deep and rich spiritual life is understanding the fundamental essentials for producing an authentic and growing relationship with Christ.
This was the challenge facing the early church in Acts 2. As the church was facing rapid and unprecedented growth as a large number of people were accepting the message of the gospel and embracing the church. Furthermore, they were starting a whole new ministry that had no previous experience to fall back on. Because the Mosaic covenant and the Old Testament rituals were fulfilled in Christ, they were no longer central to worship. As they formed a new community, they needed to identify and focus upon the basics. In doing so, they prioritized four primary ministries that would create the foundation for the early church's ministry and growth. In these four activities, we discover the basis for our spiritual growth as well. If we instill these four activities within our life, we will find the key to developing a rich and vibrant relationship with Christ.
The first key is found in the phrase, "They were devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching." First and foremost, a vibrant spirituality is grounded in the study and application of Scripture. It is driven by a desire to know the Bible and walk in obedience to the teaching of Scripture.
Second, spiritual growth involves being a part of the community. But this is more than mere attendance; it requires participation and mutual concern for one another. To be a part of the fellowship is to care for one another's spiritual well-being and encourage one another. It is to recognize that we are called and equipped to serve others. This mutual involvement in one another is further seen in the expression "to the breaking of bread," which refers to eating meals with one another. Christian fellowship encompasses the daily activities of life, not just to gather for an hour on Sunday.
Third, to grow spiritually in our relationship with Christ, we need to make prayer a central part of our relationship with God. Relationships are never developed in silence; they are grounded in communication and interaction. This is true not only with our relationships with our spouse and others but also with our relationship with God. Scripture is his communication to us, and prayer becomes our communication with God. Prayer is more than asking God for requests to be answered; it is sharing our life with our closest friend, seeking his counsel, and communicating with him the struggles and issues we face in the day.
The last essential is found in verse 47, where the people were praising God. Praise and worship are a response to God. It is the praise of his character and the gratitude for his activity in our life. It reorients our focus by pointing us to God's position of supremacy in our life.
While the Christian life is never easy, it is not complex. If we desire to have a vibrant and growing relationship with Christ, these need to be the foundation upon which we build our relationship.