Acts 2:44 (NIV) All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Last night was Halloween, we live in a neighborhood that is quite popular with families and trick-or-treaters. Since our children are mostly grown, no one was dressing up instead choosing to decorate pumpkins and pass our candy to the army of little superheroes, monsters and the like. The first text message came from my oldest just before lunch to let me know that she had invited a friend over to be the candy police. No problem. As the day went on a text message here and a call there turned into a pop-up party at our house. I was cooking dinner as everyone began to arrive and hungry children filled my kitchen. By the time the parents had gathered, my supplies had run out so we ordered a pizza. The girls greeted the treat seekers while older siblings accompanied the younger ones around the neighborhood. There was food, laughter, and fellowship and as I fell into my bed thoroughly exhausted from the day – I couldn’t help but smile. This is community. This is what God wanted and He was happy. Even on a day heavily debated by many Christians – good had overcome evil.
This is not to debate the participation of Christians in the fall season festivities. God looks at our heart and judges us accordingly with His Love and Immeasurable Grace. The gathering of believers in our home was not about celebrating the darkness or any sort of evil. In fact, it was about coming together as a community. That’s right a community. God loves community. He loves fellowship. A community may be the social group in which we operate, the local of our residence, and a shared government. It can also be an occupational group. The “ecclesiastical” definition of community is a group who shares common interest. Our common bond is Jesus Christ. He brings us together and reconciles us to Himself so that we can identify with each other.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The group who gathered in our home last night all attend church together. Sitting on the front porch, the mamas helped me with a tutu for homecoming week sprung on me by my teen who was out in the neighborhood with the others. Everyone talking, laughing and commenting on the princesses and ninjas on our doorstep. As the night progress and people cleared the streets, we moved inside out of the cold. Our home is not an open floor plan so I often hesitate to invite people over because it doesn’t seem to flow. By the end of the night, there were about a dozen people with an oversized dog all together and it seemed to work out just fine. Laughter filled the air. Everyone enjoying one another – I just cannot help but think the Lord is showing me the value and worth of putting aside our insecurities about where we live, what we have to offer and our opinions on certain subjects long enough to do community. To be a community. To share life in Christ together. Maybe this would end dumb arguments and stupid separation caused by misunderstandings and isolation – we would know each other’s heart and the love to be found there. Did you notice that in the coming together of believers that “the Lord added to their number daily who were being saved”? I wonder if the community called church has lost its ability to come together and have fun. Have we lost the concept of the “more the merrier”? What if we decided to come together and be one? Imagine the possibilities?
In verse 47, there are two key words – together and common. Together means in one gathering, a company, mass, place or body, union and in relationship. Relationship pleases God. It is the whole reason He sent His Son, Jesus to die for us so that our relationship with Him could return to right standing. The Love of God invested in us pays a dividend when it is released from us. It is the harvest that blesses the Kingdom and our Father. The word in “common” has meaning too. The division of believers is a difference never set forth by God. The common bond is Jesus Christ. We are to reconcile our life to Him which incorporates and infuses a love that binds and never restricts. Common means belonging equally to, shared a like by, joint, united, widespread and frequent occurrence. Together in common is the community facilitated by the Love of God through Jesus Christ that should be the practice of the modern day church according to the Word of God it will produce the salvation in many and result in an expansion of the church.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Let us consider…think carefully about as to make a decision, contemplate and reflect. The church of Jesus Christ wants to build the Kingdom. I think we lose our focus on how to do that by trying to perfect the people rather than concentrating on loving each other. Community in Christ is all about Jesus. Jesus. That’s all. As we come together to encourage each other and build each other up – His Spirit moves in us. Conviction and conversion by His Spirit is way more effective than our personal opinion or religion. I am not entirely convinced any of us have it all right but Jesus is my righteousness. Yoked to Him, I can give myself to relationship and community freely because He is my expectation.
Before you post on social media, think about this. Is it kind, necessary and true? Does it bring together or tear apart? Before you hit send on that text, is it kind, necessary and true? Am I sharing the love and grace of Jesus or getting my point across? Before you hesitate to join together with others (not only believers) but the sharing of your life with others, remember Jesus is all you need to be a good host or hostess. He has provided all you need to meet together, fellowship and enjoy the company of others. Use every opportunity to have a pop-up party – I am a type A personality kind of planner. I begin the process months in advance. To have an impromptu gathering is outside of my comfort zone, but it is exactly the kind of ministry I am called to. I wonder if we consider our attitude and actions in each invitation or interaction with the community according to Christ what might happen in the church of the Living God.
Finally, I am to be a Light in this world. Like a city on a hill drawing others to Christ, those drawn to the Light will do so in love and their message will be heard by soft hearts safely in a relationship. We must learn to consider our community and incorporate it in our life. We should spur others to love not offense. Just because you interpret God’s Word one way does not mean others will do the same and it doesn’t mean that you are always right. The only thing that you can’t go wrong with is unconditional love and overflowing grace – the qualities of Jesus Christ – the example for the church. Religions dictates our life. Relationship decides to love with our life. Each person lives by a standard. Ultimately, Christ is our standard. We make the choice each day. We are called to build a Kingdom. We are mandated to encourage one another. The Body of Christ is broken and maybe if we consider community first – it will come together as one.
Romans 12:3-5 (NIV) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.