As I’m writing this, my 50 pounds of luggage is sitting in the hallway, zipped up, and ready to fly away. My snacks (because…pregnancy, duh) and my word search are shoved in my backpack ready for my long day tomorrow (as you’re reading this, I’m almost back from this trip). I’m heading to the Dominican Republic to help lead a women’s retreat and visit communities the organization I work for helps in. My mind’s been going NUTS about what to speak to these women about during our breakout session. I’m talking palms sweaty, mind crushing, burning in my chest NUTS. Tyler keeps reminding me, “Rest. REST in Christ. He will guide you.”
“I know, I know, I know,” I attest. But do I REALLY know?
As I’ve thought, asked around, freaked out, and prayed, the Lord led me to COMMUNITY. What in the world does Biblical community look like, anyway? I think it’s quite appropriate to look to the church in Acts for our answer.
“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.” Acts 2:42-47
This text is RICH. These people were DEVOTED, y’all. I mean devoted. Do we see that much today in our churches? Full on devotion is highly important! The Lord’s Supper, teachings, and prayer — these are all valued in the early church. They all believed. They took care of each other’s needs. They incessantly praised God! They were continually adding to their number each day because seriously, think about this — doesn’t it all sound SO attractive?
Here we are in the 21st century doing this whole “attractional ministry” thing and what not when all along this church in Acts sets the example. God should be the foundation of our community. The Lord’s Supper, teachings, prayer, caring for one another, belief… these should all be increasingly important in our churches and communities today. I feel like they truly, truly cared for one another. How much more attractive would the Church today be if we truly cared for each other’s needs?
Matt Chandler outlines Biblical community with four main points. I’m so loving these, so I have to share!
- Love. Oh, the word we throw around and hear frequently! We love our spouses, our best friends, our dogs, and lamp. We love the Tennessee Vols, basketball, and all the ponies in the world. Those seem to all be different kinds of love, right? At least I hope so! What kind is Matt talking about, then? He’s talking about the love found in 1 John 3:16-18. It’s sacrificial love. This kind of love is best represented by the sending of Jesus to die for our sins. “Love that is not sacrificial is not really love at all.” We have to have love all over our Biblical community.
- Consistency. The church in Acts met daily, y’all! They were DEVOTED to one another. We need some commitment up in here!
- Worship. We must celebrate the Lord together! We should be pursuing Him, showing Him reverence and adoration… together. How sweet it is to worship our Creator with other believers!
- Authenticity. “People who gather together but don’t truly know each other can’t be called a community. We need to be transparent — confessing sins, struggles, and praises.” We have to BE REAL! Don’t you want to be able to connect with other believers? We all struggle. We all have great things to share. We might as well be honest with one another!
So what are you doing to be part of Christian community? Are you a help in promoting community or are you a gossip, slandering other people — going against God’s work? Are you being intentional with others?
Think about someone you can reach out to today. Make them feel important. Find some way to encourage them. Meet together. Pray together. Get this community thing going! Let’s start to look more like this beautiful, growing, healthy church in Acts. Let’s work on being THE CHURCH today.