In my Friday morning men’s group, I was asked what it looked like back in the day at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa when Christians got together, for a bible study or other gathering.
And I have been thinking about that since he asked that, and I’ve had a hundred memories running through my head while trying to think of how to answer that question.
And I think the answer is found in who we were, how we lived daily. Because without that any examples don’t make sense and are truly unduplicatable. Because that is the foundation, was the catalyst for what occurred when we met together.
Like the trinity we had a three-fold purpose and that ultimately was one purpose, Jesus, the Word, and the mission. And it dominated every aspect of our daily life, our thoughts, our actions, our purpose for living. Sub purpose along with those was Koinonia, (fellowship) and Maranatha, (the second coming of our Lord Jesus).
Because Jesus, the word of God and His mission were our lives, the most important things in our lives, the priority of our lives, what happen when we got together happened because of that. Jesus, the word of God, and the mission dominated our thoughts, our conversations, they affected everything we did every day. So, when we came to gather it looked like the book of Act’s chapter 2, like Eph 5:16, and 1 Cor 14:26.
When we gathered together all we talked about was Jesus and His word, because for us “to live is Christ” was how we lived. We did not have to switch to “church mode” or start acting like Christians when we came together, we were living it out daily. We talked about Jesus all day with everyone.
I must start with the elements, the foundation that created what happened when we came together?
The Mission: We all joined God in what He was doing every day, and so we had daily stories about fresh encounters with God, with what He was doing, stories of us joining Him in what He was doing. Stories of preaching the gospel, the sick being healed, the blind seeing, people being saved, people repenting, people being delivered. Even stories of receiving persecution for preaching the gospel. Testimony of prayers being answered.
First hand stories, so that no matter who we talked with, set down next to when a conversation started we had a steady stream of God stories about what He had done. We prayed daily for God to use us, lead us where He was working, let us join Him. When we prayed it, we meant it, we put everything else on the back burner. We brought it with us when we come together, our part in the mission, in what God was doing on earth.
The Word: We had daily fresh encounters with His word and what it said to share, not just a list of isolated bible verses committed to memory from some list memorized we just repeated. But a daily fresh encounter with the word and the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the word it for that day. We started our day with our bibles open digging into the word, we finished our day in it, and every minute in-between that we could. We carried our bibles with us everywhere, we were reading it and sharing it every opportunity we had. We were set on fire for and by His word, encounters with God in His word. And if we did not share what we had received, we would have exploded I think. And we wanted to share it with everyone. We had burning bush encounters with God in His word. You cannot keep that kind of encounters with the Lord under a basket, you must shout it from a rooftop, and so we did, to each other, to everyone we encountered.
We all carried our Bibles with us if we were going to a restaurant to eat alone or with somebody, it was with us and open. When going to somebody’s house, because whenever we gathered together we always open our bibles and shared the Word. Even work because we never wanted to be far from it or miss any opportunity we had for sharing the word with others.
Jesus: And we abided in Christ and He in us, our thoughts were consumed with Jesus. We preached the gospel to ourselves all day, keeping the cross and resurrection fresh in our thoughts, to us it was if Jesus died for us and rose from the dead that day and we praised Him for it and had to tell others about it. We walked and talked with Him as if He was standing right next to us all day long because He was, we were consumed with Him. God became a man, suffered for our sins, paid our debt, died for us, and rose from the dead. And when we die He is going to raise us from the dead, give us His ring, robe and sandals. And we will eat with Him at His banquet table. What is there to talk about that was more important than that! Therefore, we talked with everyone about Him, I mean everyone. Our greatest joy was to talk about Jesus, we would rather talk about Him than anything else with each other and with others.
And we were also about Koinonia, the word means; 1contribution, 2fellowship, 3participation, 4sharing. We used the word a lot back then to describe our gatherings, because It denotes the active participation or sharing of what one has in common with others. Koinonia is a very special kind of sharing—entering into what the apostles experienced with Christ. And that is what we did when we came together, “active participation or sharing in what one has in common with others” and that was Jesus, the word, and the mission. We entered “into what the apostles experienced with Christ.” That is why we wanted to be with the body of Christ in the first place.
And Maranatha, the word means; “Our Lord comes” or “Our Lord is coming.” Jesus us told us “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matt 24:44) So we reminded each other to be ready, we did not want to be found asleep in the light. Paul said “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thess 5:6-11 NKJV) And so when we came together we “comfort each other and edify one another” and we keep each other awake. And alerted others that Jesus was coming again.
Those things defined who we were and thus what it looked like when we came together, it looked like the book of Act’s chapter 2, like Eph 5:16, and 1 Cor 14:26 I really think it looked like what it must have been like when the disciples came together after a day of joining God in what He was doing, living on mission. A day of Going into the world and preaching the gospel, teaching what Jesus said even onto persecution. Each one with their stories to share of going. A bunch of people who were crazy about Jesus, the word, and obsessed about people getting saved even unto death, coming together as co-laborers in the Kingdom of God and encourage one another.
That’s the starting place, the foundation of what caused what occurred when we gathered together, part 1 of the story.