2:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
It's maddening to me how many of us treat God and religion as some kind of transaction. God has something we want and religion becomes a system or formula or list of things we do to please or appease Him so we can get what we want from Him. In short it's just business. See in business there is no relationship. Perfect strangers can conduct business, both go away from the exchange happy, and never see each other again.
Sadly too many people treat their marriages that way too. They calculate what they need to give in order to get what they want. It may "work" but it's not marriage, not the way God intended or the way that will bring deep happiness and deepening love.
So if religion isn't a system, a formula, or a business transaction what is it? What do happy healthy Christians "do" and why do they "do" What they do? The question itself exposes our warped thinking but since Luke wrote down a list of things they were "doing" let's explore it.
3, breaking bread
First of all note that they GLADLY received the news Peter preached that day. They were happy to be baptized. This was joyous for them. If you coming to God in any other frame of mind you missed something. They are joyous because they realized that in spite of what they did to Jesus He loves them and has forgiven them and wants to bring them Home. They have their Messiah and He is better than they were taught or ever believed! They are free from the tyranny of religion and systems and lists and safe in the arms of a loving God.
In that context Luke is not giving a list of things they had to do to "get right with God." Rather he is describing the things they did in response to the soul restoring, happiness inducing Good News.
Doctrine: They simply wanted to learn as much as they could about Him because to know Him more is to love Him more.
Fellowship: When you find something (or Someone in this case) you want to be around others who "get it". We were meant for relationships. We were designed for community. No man is an island. One of the first benefits of understanding the love, grace, and forgiveness of God is that it radically increases our capacity to love others and have healthier, happier relationships.
Breaking of bread: Some believe this refers to sharing meals together while others believe it indicates the breaking of bread associated with remembering Jesus' death for us. Frankly it was both. Sharing meals together brings people together. Many many times you find Jesus eating surrounded by people. One of the most consistent accusations against Him was that He ate with "bad" people. Remember the cafeteria at school? No one wants to eat alone. Being invited to sit at a table was saying "You are one of us. We like you and accept you." A group of believers that never eats together is weakened by not doing so. It indicates a gathering or strangers rather than a family of faith. However again note that Luke is nor saying "Christians must ear together to be true believers." He is simply telling us what happened among them as a result of finding the Good News.
Prayer: Many things have been said about prayer. My two favourites are these:
1, Prayer is the breath of the soul
2, Prayer is talking to God as if talking to a friend.
Luke says these first believers talked to God a lot. There is a doctrinal reason for this. In other words they learned something about Him (doctrine) that opened the floodgates of communication. We'll explore what that was tomorrow...