Gospel Communities | Together Frequently 1.0 | Being Together
“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
As mentioned previously, the elders and other church leadership have been praying and seeking the Lord’s will regarding a reorientation of our gospel community groups. We as a church want to make sure that we are focused squarely on what is most important, namely God himself. During our seeking, the elders were led to the well-known passage in Acts chapter 2, quoted above. This passage has been a template from which we have worked in order to help frame our goals as a community. In looking at the text together, we see that the disciples in the early church were
- Devoted Rightly
- Together Frequently
- Giving Generously
Our last set of posts (which can be found on our blog here) dealt with the first of these distinctions. We covered the disciples’ devotion to the Word, to prayer, to communion, and to fellowship; all of these devotions serve as tools in devotion to God himself, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The next set of posts will be focused on the second distinction, or principle, found in Acts 2:42-47. In observing the lives of these imperfect yet passionate followers of the way of Jesus, we see repeatedly, not just in this passage but throughout the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament, that the believers were together frequently. This unity was one of the many fruits of their proper devotion to God through the gospel. We likewise are to be together frequently, so we might edify one another to good works as contributing citizens in the church and the world.
The believers in the early church spent a considerable amount of time together. Granted, while social life looked much different in that time than it does for us now, too often the modern church, predominantly in the western world, uses this difference as a means to justify our individualism and aversion to knowing others and being known. The New Testament, however, consists of writings that assume a certain “togetherness” of life. While context is fundamental to reading any Scripture, we know that the church, a group of people following Christ together in a given place, still gathers corporately under the banner of the gospel.
Deep down, there is a desire in each of us to be known fully, a longing that is written on our hearts by our Creator. However, knowing that community is hard and often inconvenient, we tend to avoid the togetherness, settling for lesser means of connection and communication (I am chief among sinners in this regard, and am writing for my own instruction as well as yours!). Although this may be normal in the world around us, and although there is something within each of us that suspects that life might be a little easier without the burdens of others, Jesus Christ himself was clear in his intentions for community. Jesus desired that we would be one just as he and the Father are one (John 17:20-23), and he gave us the commandment to love one another as he loved us, teaching also that the world will know we belong to him by observing the way we love each other (John 13:34-35). The rest of the new Testament and the theology of the whole bible is clear: God sent Jesus to die in my place for my sin, individually, but we must not stop here. Christ died to reconcile the Church back to God, and this Church, not individually awesome people, is the hope of the world, sent to be a witness to the truth in a world of lies and darkness.