Growing in Community by Adam and Kristin Bleger
Acts 2: 41-47 ESV
“So those who received his (Peter’s) word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
This well-known passage of scripture outlines how the early Church lived, worked, and had community together after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first filled the disciples and the Church. After this outpouring, the power of the Holy Spirit was so apparent in miracles, signs, and wonders, that the community was knit together even more deeply. The Passion translation states that “their hearts were mutually linked together”. The Church chose to devote itself to caring for each other, worshipping together in temple and out, sharing life and meals together. A Spirit of generosity filled them each, as well, as they sold their possessions and gave to those in need. Because of this generous outpouring of love and care for each other, people were drawn to them and ultimately to the Father.
Can I say this is true of my relationships within the church, or outside of it? Can you? Does awe come upon our souls when we see those Christ has placed in our church family? Do you break bread with others in different homes regularly, praising God as you do so? Do you pray for friends (both in and out of the church), and choose to reach out and encourage them? Is your heart mutually linked with those of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you devote yourself to the fellowship, or limit it to Sunday morning worship and the occasional coffee date? For many of us, the answer is no…or, perhaps, it’s “sometimes”. So the question becomes, what would it look like to truly live this out in YOUR life, and in mine? With our particular families, social calendars, personality types, resources….what could we do to press in to the fellowship of believers, both within the River Church and outside of it? What would you need to set aside for a season, so you had time to open your life and perhaps your home?
I believe no matter where we are on the spectrum of living in community, we can all continue to grow in this area. With those who are Believers, and those who aren’t yet. And as we do, I believe our true Christ-love and care for each will become visible—even contagious. Just as in the early church, that love will not only bless our Church, but also draw others who don’t yet know the Lord into relationship. First with us, and ultimately with the Father who created each of them for community, as well.
Abba Father, You were the one who first chose to live in community. The Trinity has existed in perfect fellowship and unity-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- eternally. You enjoy full, rich community within that circle every day, always; and Your desire is for Your Church to enjoy that same richness of community. You desire it for our neighbors and co-workers who don’t yet know You, as well. When man was created, You knew it was not good for Adam to be alone, because You knew the depth of what it meant to live in community. And so You created Eve to be his partner, his companion, his community. We ask for greater wisdom as we seek to grow true relationships and community in our lives; give us eyes to see those who need to be drawn into our homes and lives. Pour out a deeper understanding of fellowship, as You intended it; and may that understanding grow and change this church, this city, this world- one open home and two mutually linked hearts at a time.