This transformed community is what we need to be immersed in!
To see these above ten things, the Acts 2 Church devoted themselves to:
- Apostles’ teaching
- Breaking of bread
“We are a generation past people having a general respect for the Scriptures. It’s gone from a general respect to indifference to hostility. Now it’s hostility. For you to ground your life on the Word of God will cause a distinction in you culturally speaking. But you didn’t just sign up for the Word of God, you signed up to do it together in fellowship.”
“To grow in the Word of God isn’t just to put your nose in the Book; it’s to be WITH PEOPLE in the Book.”
“The propensity for me to get it wrong is extremely high when I’m not in community. You’re more likely to get it wrong when just you and Jesus have your own thing going. When you don’t have the community of believer’s around you for clarification, accountability, correction, then the Jesus you are following starts to look more and more like you instead of you looking more and more like Him.
Fellowship — Koinōnia — the general friendship and unity which characterized the community. Share life with other people! An openness to friendship and relationship. Not “all access to everyone all the time…just don’t close the door.”
When we’ve experienced hurt and betrayal, the temptation is to shut off all relationship. But just because you got food poisoning doesn’t mean you never eat again. There has to be a general openness to relationship. The fellowship is built on the Apostles’ teaching; it’s grounded in the Word of God.
You can build community on what you are afraid of or what you are against (mechanism of propaganda: induce fear and create a vision of “enemy”)–political factions and church splits. You can build community around “identity”–identity politics divides people by fleshly identities then turns them against each other. You can build community on common interest–book club, athletic clubs, etc.
So what makes the Church different? It’s not built on what we’re afraid of, against, or what we like, or on shared opinion (conformity does not mean unity). The Church is built on the Word of God. It’s that simple. Jesus binds us together. What Jesus has done and who He is is enough that we can have relationship.
The only thing that can sustain a real relationship is the Word of God, the Person of Jesus Christ, the Truth. If we are committed to the Truth, even if we disagree on other things, then we can move forward. Jesus is bigger than our opinions.
If “Jesus” starts to resemble a certain political wind of doctrine rather than the Truth, you know where that’s going and when to break fellowship.
Manipulation is easy. Integrity is hard. Building fellowship on common interests is easy. Being a Church is hard–it is full of different interests and opinions, different levels of maturity. This is what it means: I follow Jesus, I am devoted to His Word and to the community. To say “yes” to Jesus is to say “yes” to His people. Simple. Not easy.
What it means to be devoted to fellowship:
All of these are summed up by LOVE ONE ANOTHER the way Jesus loves us. (John 13:34-35) Jesus is very clear what “love” means–sacrificially and unconditionally.
Our highest level of evangelism, witness, and influence is (agape) loving one another. G Campbell Morgan: the measure in which Christian people fail in love to each other is the measure in which the world does not believe in them, or their Christianity. It is the final test of discipleship, according to Jesus.
How can I love like Jesus? Apostles’ teaching and fellowship. Fellowship is done by hospitality, prayer, generosity, and service.
- Hospitality: cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests. Practice by sharing a meal. It’s “risky” to share your home for a meal with someone. Something profound happens when you share a meal.
- Prayer: James 5:16 (NLT) “…pray for each other…the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Part of fellowship is praying for each other. Be around people who know how to pray. Be willing to pray for others even if it’s uncomfortable and you don’t think you’re good at it.
- Don’t underestimate just the simple “can we pray about it” or “can I pray for you?”
I Peter 4:7-9 (ESV) “the end of all things is at hand”…so what do we do?!…be “self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers”…just chill and “keep loving one another.” Don’t be rude and self-righteous. “Show hospitality toward one another without grumbling.” What was the Apostle Peter’s instruction when he’s warning everyone the end of all things is at hand? Love one another and keep showing hospitality. If it was true then, it is true now.