Read His Words Before Ours!
As people entered the community centre, the atmosphere was one of excitement and anticipation. Though their faces were masked, I could see the joy in their eyes, and I could hear it in their voices as we greeted one another.
We spent time together, worshipping and hearing God’s Word; then, at the end, people lingered to chat, pray, and enjoy conversation and fellowship.
In many ways it was just a normal Sunday morning, but when you haven’t had a “normal Sunday morning” for seventeen months, you appreciate it so much more! While our church had done a good job of staying connected online during the pandemic, it just wasn’t the same as being together. How grateful we were to finally gather face-to-face.
From the very start, when God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), it was clear we were not designed to live in isolation, but were created for community and fellowship.
Acts 2:42-47 paints a beautiful picture of this fellowship at its best, describing the early believers spending time together, worshipping and praying, sharing food and possessions. It wasn’t merely something they did, but something to which they devoted themselves (Acts 2:42). This shared fellowship travelled far deeper than simple friendship. They lived their lives together with a shared purpose and “held all things in common.” (Acts 2:44)
Of course, the most important thing they held in common was their faith in Jesus. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 highlights that true fellowship is only really possible between believers. While we can (and should) have friendships with non-Christians, there is a special bond only found with others who also walk with God for the Spirit Himself binds them together.
In a culture where Christian values are so different from most people around us, it is important we know there are others who stand with us and we encourage one another.
When we consider the description of the believers’ fellowship in Acts, I’m sure it is something we would all desire. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this loving community?
But the truth is that while fellowship can be a joy, there are also times when it feels more like a discipline.
While we have a common faith in Jesus, the church is made up of people who are diverse in every other way. We have different backgrounds and upbringings, different skills and personalities, preferences, and opinions. Additionally, we are all imperfect people who get it wrong at times and don’t always love others as well as we should. Sometimes, Christian fellowship can be a challenge and we may even be tempted to give up on it all together!
It’s interesting to consider Jesus’ example of fellowship. If ever someone could have done it alone, it was Jesus, but one of the first steps He took on beginning His ministry was to call a group of disciples to join Him and work alongside Him. (Matthew 4:18-22) Even though His disciples got it wrong on multiple occasions, often misunderstood each other and the Lord, and sometimes hindered Christ in His work, He still chose to do it with them.
On the night before He went to the cross, He prioritised fellowship with His disciples. He ate with them, taught them, and confided in them, asking them to pray for Him as He wrestled with the task that lay ahead.
He left them with an important reminder that their fellowship would have a lasting impact, not only for themselves, but for others who witnessed it.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
The Christian life was never meant to be a solitary pursuit. This is shown by the number of times the phrase “one another” is used in the New Testament. This article contains a list. Christ gives instructions we cannot follow unless we are actively living in community with other believers; connecting with others allows us to grow in love, patience, humility, and service.
As Paul writes to the Corinthians, he describes the church like a body made up of many different parts. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26) Each of us has a different part to play, but each part has value and significance. There are two main temptations we fall into when considering our role in the Body of Christ. Either we feel inadequate as we look at others’ strengths, comparing them against our weaknesses, or we look down on others, arrogantly becoming frustrated with those who are very different from us.
Paul warns against both these temptations, reminding us we are meant to be different, we need those who are different from us in order for the body to function correctly, and by working together, using our different gifts, we will more accurately reflect Christ to one another and to those around us.
It is worth persevering in fellowship because when it is done well, the impact is amazing, as evidenced by the believers’ report in Acts, “Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!