by Sam Knaus
The successful Christian life cannot be lived apart from community. This point was driven home to me a couple of years ago. I thinned out a couple of acres of pine trees behind my house so that they would grow taller and straighter. A couple months later a big ice storm hit and those unsupported, spindly pines bent over with the weight and began to snap. Too often we are like those pine trees all by ourselves and ready to snap from the weight of the world on us. The support of your brothers and sisters in Christ in the church is God’s answer to our need for fellowship, accountability and support. God said early on that it isn’t good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). We need to get into community with the family of God.
Probably the best example of the type of family love was the first Christian community (church). We find the way they kicked things off for us in Acts 2:42. Luke tells us that they, “devoted themselves to … fellowship, to the breaking of bread.” They built their fellowship on the apostles teaching and prayer too, but it was all done in the context of relationship. These early Christians were devoted to fellowship. The Greek word “koinonia,” translated fellowship in this verse, goes way beyond pot-luck suppers and small talk in the fellowship hall. It means sharing or a partnership. Those who walk in the Spirit share a common road. Those who receive Jesus Christ become partners with each other in fulfilling the mission of the church and in spiritual growth.
It was a tough time for that small band of believers, but they shared their resources and got through it. One of the reasons they were able to make it was they really believed that they were a family. Of course if your brother, sister, dad, mom, son or daughter needed food, shelter, clothing you would help. That is just what they did. This is not some form of communism that takes your resources from you and ends up impoverishing everyone in the end. It is family love that passes stuff around, meets needs and picks people up when they fall. We need to remember we are family too.
They were devoted to the breaking of bread. This means they shared meals. One of the best ways to build fellowship is to invite people over. You both have to eat. Don’t stress. Your mess helps you build a bridge to them. Your perfect dinner and sparkling house can actually build a wall when you pretend you have it all together. They shared the Lord’s Supper too. There is no greater symbol of the unity we have with our brothers and sisters than the body and blood of our Lord Jesus.
One of the greatest things we can learn from this thriving, struggling group of early Christians is they didn’t give up on each other. Luke said they devoted themselves. Satan wants you to be quick to throw the baby out with the bath water when fellowship is tough because he knows that you will only learn the best things (love, forgiveness, humility) in relationships. Sometimes the more organized a church gets the more like a business and less like a body it becomes. Just like growing up, even real-deal brothers and sisters can be jerks sometimes. The answer is never to isolate yourself. The writer of Hebrews warns us not to forsake (literally abandon) the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:24-25). He said we need to be in community to provoke or stir each other up to love and good works, and we need to be in community so we can cheer each other on as we see the Day that Jesus is coming back approaching.
Maybe the reason that you are about to crack right now is you don’t have anyone around you holding you accountable and cheering you on. Let’s not be like the poor pine trees I left standing by themselves. When we isolate ourselves everyone loses. Let’s get into fellowship with our family of brothers and sisters in Christ. The only way to live a successful Christian life is to get into community with the family of God.
To learn how to become a part of God’s family, please click here.
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