Experience - Day 13

Acts 2:42-47 NLT

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

This passage, for many, is a favorite.  It paints what seems like an idyllic picture of what real community, real church, is supposed to be; a community that devotes itself to teaching, fellowship, and an ongoing commitment to Jesus; a community that is regularly aware of how big God is, and how small they are; a community shares and cares for each others so no one has to go without; and a community that grows.

What’s amazing that we often miss about this passage is that the outpouring of the Spirit led to this kind of community.  So it seems that when the Spirit is unleashed, the fruit is togetherness, along with the other fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.  

This is yet another passage that affirms what has been true since the beginning; you and I were created by community (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit… “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” Genesis 1:26, emphasis added), and we were created for community.  Jesus didn’t call one disciple, He called twelve.  He didn’t send them out one by one, but two by two.  Jesus said, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20).  God longs for us to have community because community is who God is.  God is love and love doesn’t exist in isolation.

So why don’t we have these kinds of communities described in this passage all over in Christianity?  Why is there more judgment, condemnation, us and them behaviors in that which is supposed to reflect the image of Christ, His body, the church?

In one word - sin.  “sin, both our own and that of others, drivers us into customized selfishness.  Separation from God becomes separation from neighbor.” (-Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder). And the devil would love to have us think we don’t need anyone else, that we’re better off on our own.  Because people are messy, because community is hard.  And yes people are messy, and yes, community is hard, but when “The Holy Spirit breathes on the chaotic and random population [in Jerusalem]…He makes a people of God, a church…A church only has being in relation to Christ.” (-Peterson)

You and I were meant for community.  We were meant to grow in community, to love in community, to serve in community, and to follow Christ in community.  Our modern day problem is that we’re so consumer driven, when we go to a community and feel it doesn’t meet all our needs, we bail.  Problem is, no community is perfect and it won’t get better without you.

Have you ever thought that if you notice something about your church community that is missing, that maybe God put you there to notice?  Maybe He even put you there to make it better?

I truly believe that if you and I are surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, it will lead us to community, to be an active participant in what God is doing in this world.  This is what happened in the early church, and it can happen again, but it’s up to you.  Are you going to go at it alone, or join a community and change the world?

  1. What types of community experiences have you had in the past that were transformative for you?  Can you pinpoint what it was that made it so special? 
  2. Have you had a bad experience with community?  What made it difficult and how did you respond?
  3. Are you connected to a community, and if so, how are you contributing to make it even better?

By Pastor Paddy McCoy

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