Imagine with me. The church stayed in one place together. The early church of Jerusalem stayed in the house of the Upper Room–about one hundred and twenty believers, men and women (Acts 1:13-14, 15). Even if this word applied only to the Eleven, which is very possible, and not to the “women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and . . . His brothers” (1:14), still–eleven men staying together in the same house! A holy fraternity! Sometimes it is easy to forget that for about three years, Jesus traveled around Palestine, almost non-stop, with these same men, perhaps most of whom had a wife (1 Corinthians 9:5; e.g. Peter, Mark 1:30). The camaraderie! The fellowship! Such a tight-knit friendship! “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
Then, beyond the housing, there was the teaching. “I was daily,” said Jesus, “with you in the temple teaching” (Mark 1:49; cf. Luke 19:47). Daily, the Bread from Heaven fed His flock on the richness of fulfilled Scripture. Daily, the apostles also fed His sheep, first “in the temple, and in every house” (Acts 5:42), and then it seems in whatever quarters they could secure, in whatever city to which they were led, as implied in the school of Tyrannus, where Paul taught the Ephesian disciples daily (Acts 19:9). Even the Berean Jews, in double-checking the apostle Paul, “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). Daily food! “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11; cf. 4:4).
And then there was the prayer–constant, devoted prayer (Acts 1:14)–in addition to “the daily distribution” of food to needy widows (Acts 6:1). All this was daily! No wonder the New Testament contains such little mention of Sabbath-keeping. Who needs to enforce meeting one day a week, when the church meets daily?
Now, imagine with me the sweetness of this situation. Yes, it is strange–so different from our context that we are tempted to feel guilty over the disparity, but I asking you to resist any feelings of guilt and just to enjoy the sight. Wow, what a time to be a Christian! How such a situation puts a whole new light on the phrase “church family”!
Now what can be done here in Hudson to savor such sweetness in our own lives?
First, let us think how fitting daily church would be. Is it not odd that we expect a sports teams to practice daily (rather than weekly), yet find it strange to hear of a church meeting daily? Today, the skillful coordination of body in sports takes precedent over the skillful coordination of souls in relationships. Why could it not be the opposite?
Further, we expect schools to operate daily, teaching the three R’s of modern education, yet find it strange for Christians to meet daily to learn the three R’s of revealed religion–Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration! In China, Hudson Taylor not only conducted a public meeting per night, but afterward taught the converts a spiritual lesson from the Old Testament, read a chapter from Pilgrim’s Progress or some helpful book, and then concluded with a practical lesson from the New Testament–and this was all in addition to Sunday, which had its own special services!
What’s my point? Again, not guilt, but a dream, even a seed planted. What if we saw each other more often? Oh, how our love would kindle quicker and our concern deepen! Oh, how easy it would be to encourage each other, to pray for each other, to enjoy each other! Hospitality provides one avenue for this dream, but so do more meetings. It is both “in the temple” (meetings) and “in every house” (hospitality). Daily. What a beautiful word!
Therefore, I also invite you to pray with me towards this ideal. At first we may not think we need it. With mobility, we can do more things. With radio and television, we can hear top-notch preachers. With our own Bibles and study helps, we can learn right there in our living room. But, I ask, where is the daily encouragement from a friend? “Exhort one another daily,” the Bible says, “while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). Again, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). One strong goal of church is daily encouragement. We are not there, but we can dream, we can pray, and we can move by grace in that direction. Amen.