GOING BEYOND CHIT-CHAT
Lord, bind us together in love.
Read ACTS 2:42–47
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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
When was the last time you shared deeply with another Christian?
How often do we hear about someone who has been discouraged in their faith by the church? It seems to have been different for the first Christians. They are attracting many: they have ‘the favor of all the people’ (47), and their numbers are increasing daily. However, we should remember that, despite the harmonious picture this passage presents, Acts does go on to make it clear that even this first church is not without its problems, as the story of Ananias and Sapphira and the disputes in Acts 6 testify.
Even taking this into account, there are clearly things we can learn from them about church growth. The key to their success seems to lie in the Greek word koinonia, which is translated as ‘fellowship’ in verse 42. Fellowship today has become something of a tame word, often meaning little more than Christians meeting together for coffee and cake. However, what lies at the heart of this word is sharing (See Ben Witherington III’s discussion on koinonia in The Acts of the Apostles, Eerdmans, 1998, p160). This comes across clearly in their sharing of possessions and money and their sharing of meals, including the breaking of bread. It seems fair to assume that they share their problems and needs with each other too, for how else could they know who is in financial difficulty and needs support?
Real relationships that go beyond superficial friendships seem to have been a major factor in demonstrating the reality, love, and transformational power of Christianity. Such meaningful sharing is needed more than ever today, when so many people are longing for closer relationships and lack a sense of belonging. Indeed, if we as Christians better understood each other’s problems and struggles, how much easier it would be to be kind and understanding towards each other and avoid the factions and disputes that can plague church life. How attractive would our churches be then!
How can we move our fellowship beyond superficial niceties towards deeper relationships? Are there any Christians with whom we could share deeper fellowship?
Lord, help us to transcend all of our petty differences so that we can bring about the unity that You expect of us.
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