Sometimes in studying the Bible, folks will inadvertently read our societal customs, traditions, and interpretations into it. The following is an extreme example of such reading from Acts 20:6-11.

“We’ve been here in this city for six days now. Why is it so hard to find a congregation of Christians in a city of only 100,000? We’ve found several synagogues and a bunch of pagan temples, but not the church building! You would think they would have an adequate street sign to identify themselves?”
“I can’t believe it. Finally, on the seventh day of our arrival, we were fortunate enough to run across their location. They are meeting in a member’s house. Is THAT scriptural? How in the world are traveling Christians supposed to find it when it’s in someone’s house? Are they anti-church building? What are they spending their contribution on?” Don’t they know that the word “assembling” authorizes Christians to take money from the 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 collection and construct a building? They must not know their Bible very well!”
“Stairs to the third floor? What if I was on crutches or in a wheelchair? How is an older saint supposed to climb stairs? You would think the home owner would have the decency to install an elevator or at least meet on the ground floor? Don’t they know by having their meetings on the third floor that they are influencing the weak bodied members who can’t climb to the third floor to forsake the assembly? Such decisions contribute to a sinful practice being established! If you ask me, they are on a slippery slope!”
“I hate house assemblies. I don’t feel like I’ve been to worship. It’s too informal. Look at these people! Not a one of them is wearing his Sunday best! How can they be respectful of God without wearing their best clothing? What, we’re not going to sing? Just because we might be arrested due to our singing is no excuse to leave it off. Where is the faith of these so-called brethren? What’s that? If I lived here, would I have the church meet in my home? No! Why not? What would my neighbors think?”
“Well, there are a lot of candles burning, but it’s too dark in here to read my manuscripts from Matthew and Paul. You would think the church could spend a few more denarius on candles so we could adequately see? Who ever heard of having the Sunday morning service at night? Isn’t that unscriptural? I wonder who will preach today? Surely not Paul since he didn’t pack a tie nor his wing-tip shoes?”
“Is Paul going to speak without a tie and look, he’s wearing sandals? Sandals. You can see his ugly toes! I guess I’d better get comfortable because a two-hour sermon is what he calls “brief’”! I doubt if this sermon will be that short! It looks like if these brethren are too cheap to build an adequate church building, they could at least supply chairs for people to sit in? Who knows how long we’re forced to stand with Paul doing the preaching?”! Look, that boy didn’t have enough room to stand, so he’s sitting in that open window. Isn’t that dangerous? That window doesn’t have screen wire on it and the few candles we have are attracting a lot of flying insects. In the last forty minutes, I’ve counted at least 387 that are buzzing around the room! No, my bad, there are 389!”
“What’s all that screaming about? It even distracted Paul, who has been preaching for the past 2 hours and eleven minutes, but who’s counting? That boy fell out the window! Whoops, I need to bow my head for a closing prayer to end our worship, so we may go downstairs and see how bad that boy is. Young people aren’t as tough as we were when I was that young. We could endure a four-hour sermon and not bat an eyelash.”
“The boy is dead! I guess church will be over now? What’s Paul doing? He is raising that lad from the dead? Wow! You don’t often see a church gathering end up like that every day. What? We’ve got to climb those stairs again and return to the third floor because we aren’t finished with worship? Oh yes, we didn’t get around to partaking of the Lord’s supper, did we? Well, we’re back upstairs. Some brother was called on to open our worship again with an opening prayer. I wonder if they are aware of having two opening and to closing prayers this evening! I’ll bet that’s a first for the Troas church! Hmm, Paul found where he stopped and is taking up his sermon from there. I hope he was about three quarters of the way into it! It’s already after midnight. I guess we can forget about getting any rest. Maybe I can sleep on the boat if the sea isn’t too rough.”
“Hmm, Paul is going to lead us in the Lord’s supper. He’s breaking a piece of bread off the loaf for himself and passing it. These house assemblies are so informal. Men and women are passing the bread to someone else after they tear off a piece. I guess they will be passing the jug of wine around, so each person may pour out some for himself in his own cup? The owner has slaves, why doesn’t he make them serve us? House churches seem so untraditional. It leaves me feeling like I haven’t been to church!? I wonder what the people of Troas who aren’t members think when they visit one of these services? Did you hear about that fellow falling on the floor and worshiping at Corinth? I don’t have all the facts, but just that information would give you the shivers.”
“The suns coming up and thankfully Paul is running out of steam! If we didn’t have our tickets for the outgoing ship, who knows how much longer we would be here while he continues to speak? Paul doesn’t use a verse, a paragraph, or even a chapter to base his sermon from. He covers the whole book sometimes. I can see why a congregation wouldn’t hire him to be their local preacher. Of course, if he is going to make it as a preacher, he needs to get married! He keeps telling his audiences that he has a right to marry, but he doesn’t. You wonder if that remark doesn’t insult the apostles who are husbands? Surely, being single doesn’t make one more spiritual than those who are married?”
“Ah, finally, we are having the closing prayer. Don’t church services leave you spiritually invigorated and looking forward to the next time to assemble!?”

Author Unknown Monday, August 20, 2018

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