Lately, I’ve been doing my Bible study in Japanese, and I came across Acts 2: 44-47 (I’ll give the Japanese first, as that is how I read it):
信者たちはみないっしょにいて、それぞれの持ち物を分け合い、 金が必要な人には、財産を売り払って与えました。 毎日、神殿できちんと礼拝をし、聖餐の時は、小人数に分かれてめいめいの家に集まり、心から喜びと感謝にあふれて、食べ物を分け合いました。 心から神を賛美する彼らに、町中の人は少なからず好感をいだき、神もまた、救われる者を毎日、仲間に加えてくださいました。
And in English:
All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved.
The thing that jumped out at me was what was missing–what I didn’t read about.
What isn’t mentioned here? Evangelism. The early church was engaged in many activities, but it did not establish preaching points, hand out fliers, go door-to-door, invite neighbors to church, etc. Rather, they lived and breathed the Gospel, and let God add to their numbers.
Now, Peter and the apostles did preach the Gospel as God gave them opportunity and led them, but that was Peter and the apostles. Most evangelicals have been nursed on the philosophy of every-member evangelism: The idea that every member of the church should be an active and zealous evangelist, regardless of circumstances, gifting, or calling. Yet, this philosophy is not in the Bible. It simply isn’t there.
Jesus may have told 120 people on hill right before his ascension that they should go throughout the world preaching the Gospel, but this is not the same thing as saying that every believer has this same obligation. And in fact, the early church did not practice every-member evangelism, as it is understood in most churches.
At the same time, while many Christians believe that they have a duty to be evangelists, they have forgotten what it means to be Christians. They have forgotten how and why Christians got their name.
The upshot? We should stop worrying about evangelism, unless that is our calling. Instead, we just need to lead a normal Christian life, as defined in Acts 2: 44-47, and God will send the increase.
And, since we are on the subject of the 2nd Chapter of Acts, here is a bonus track, all the way from 1976. Enjoy.