PART 3 ASPIRING TO BE A WITNESS FOR CHRIST
PART 3 ASPIRING TO BE A WITNESS FOR CHRIST
BEING A WITNESS OF FELLOWSHIPPING WITH OTHER BELIEVERS
Jude 12… in your feasts of charity,…
What we are going to present next was truly a Christian witness not only to believers but also to the community. The early church at Jerusalem would get together daily for what was called the Agape Feast. Those who attended would share a common meal together. Anyone who was poor, whether a believer or not were welcomed to participate. What else would take place would be teachings and the gospel message presented by those in leadership that would be presumably dialogued about. After the meal, an explanation of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and the subsequent partaking of its elements would follow. Group prayer would follow. Some commentators suggest that at the conclusion of this gathering, the assembly would sing psalms and hymns.
Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
As time passed, the occurrence of this feast changed from a daily occurrence to once a week, being held on the first day of the week, the Lord’s day, the day according to the Jewish perspective that followed the Sabbath. Some commentators would argue that not only had the frequency of the agape feast lessened, but when this change took place there was no teaching, no prayer, and no gospel presented. They would use the incident that took place in the Corinthian church as evidence. Apparently, there were those in attendance who ate their own food and consumed their own drink without waiting until all had arrived. As a result, they ate and drank excessively, becoming drunk, thus disrespecting the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 33-34
1 Corinthians 11:20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
This could be why in many churches, whenever a community dinner is held, there is no teaching, no prayer, or gospel message included. In some cases, the agape feast isn’t even followed by the Lord’s Supper. No wonder why when unbelievers attend these church dinners where there is no awareness of the teachings of the Christian faith, where there is no perception as to what believers pray for, where there is no understanding as to what the Lord’s Supper is all about, and where the gospel is not presented that what they perceive is a place where they can gather and have a good time.
I believe that the agape feast and what accompanies it hasn’t changed from the days of the early church. I will agree that the focus in 1 Corinthians 11 was centered on the Lord’s Supper, but doesn’t necessarily mean that teachings, prayer, and the gospel were omitted.
So, here’s the questions to consider.
When you meet together for church dinners, is this open to believers and unbelievers? Is teaching brought forth at some point? Is the gospel presented? Is there group prayer? Or is the gathering used only to provide charitable assistance to the poor?
I have my own personal recollection of a church in my hometown that would announce a community dinner from time to time. Usually, there was a good turnout of both believers and unbelievers. Each person or family would bring a food dish. A prayer to bless the food would be presented, and then everyone would fill up their plate. The conversation at each table usually would center around one’s job, family, health, etc. That was it. No teaching, no prayer, no Lord’s Supper, no gospel, and subsequently no changed lives.
Christians became complacent as to the declaration of the gospel. The community gatherings at the church were to foster goodwill, instead of proclaiming God’s will. Unbelievers had no awareness of anything about the Christian faith, other than the impression that the believers who hosted and attended were kind and gracious. And like them, their lives were centered around the common themes of earthly wisdom, i.e., of family, health, and job.
So, when we’re asked to attend an agape feast, a church dinner, a church pot luck supper, ask what else will be going on there. If food and drink are all there is, then unfortunately, aspiring to be a witness for Christ will fall short.
Another aspect of being a witness for Christ is being a witness of the Lord’s Supper to both believers and unbelievers. What does it mean to be a witness of the Lord’s Supper? Find out in the next chapter.
New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island Sunday & Thursday Worship - Domingo & Jueves 7:00PM