The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The word “together” appears 24 times in the book of Acts, usually with regard to the church, the group of people who were followers of Christ. The early church was together a lot. They met together to pray, they met for teaching, they ate together, worshiped together, and they got together to talk about what God was doing in their lives and through their lives. I would say they put a high value on being together.
Acts 2:44 says: “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” The early church understood that a commitment to following the way of Christ also meant a commitment to each other. The thought of following Christ alone was inconceivable for those in the first church. They needed one another. They depended on each other. They took care of each other. They looked out for each other. Their leader, Jesus, told them, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The people of the early church understood from the very beginning that following Jesus would not and could not be a solo sport. It was always meant to be a team effort. So they were devoted to community.
At the core of this word “community” is the idea that we all need to find connection and closeness with other people, a sense of belonging. I think it is one of the reasons we come to a church building when we could worship God on our own. People are searching for home, relationships, and a place to belong. In order to find this community, we must first recognize our need for others. Like the early church, we have to understand that following Christ is inherently a team sport. The primary way we demonstrate grace is in how we love each other. This means letting others into our lives. It involves reaching out for help and accepting help when we think we can do it alone. This isn’t always easy. As an independent personality, I understand the desire to be self-sufficient. But in the darkest and worst times of my life, I have found that letting people in is the only way to survive. I have also learned that letting people into my life, even when I would rather be on my own, brings a lot more joy to life. Yes, people come with baggage, but so do I. And carrying our baggage together is easier than hauling it around all alone.
Let us take our cue from the early followers of Christ. They came together regularly and eagerly. I’m sure it was messy business, being together all the time, but it is also how the good news of Christ was spread to us today. I’m in for some lovely, messy, baggage-filled, real community. How about you?
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for providing me with people who have loved me and shaped me along the way. Thank you for the Holy Spirit you have provided as my guide. I am grateful that I am not alone in this world. Please show me the ways I need to order my life so that I may be a blessing and a guide to others. Open my heart to the Spirit’s leading and give me courage to follow. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.