Acts 2:42-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
When we become believers our eyes are opened to the union we have with Jesus Christ, we recognise that we are part of God’s family and as such, we become aware of a whole household of brothers and sisters. When we have fellowship with Jesus Christ, the dynamic of that relationship is meant to outflow into many relationships – into fellowship with each other.
1 John 1:7 “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”
So let me ask you this: in this modern era, is it even possible to experience this close, caring community like we see in the early Church? What keeps the above passage in Acts 2 from just being a fairy tale from a lost era – an idealistic dream – rather than a 21st century reality? Can this imperfect group of forgiven believers really live together in community and intimacy? The Bible says we can.
God has designed us for closeness in the Church Jesus promised to build and He wants us to make the effort to BE TOGETHER as often as we can. Being together is God’s way of building koinonia in practical, visible, and tangible ways in the Church. The New Testament stresses our involvement in this ‘together’ dynamic with a key truth captured in the recurring phrase ’one another’. Just in case we miss the importance of fellowship and relating to each other, there are over thirty five ‘one another’ statements in the New Testament.
As you read them now, don’t let them be ‘theology’ or ‘doctrine’ or a dry list on a page. I want you to imagine what these concepts could actually look like and feel like in your life and in the lives of those around you who claim to be your brothers and sisters in Christ. I want you to dream about the kind of Church we will be when these statements are actually observations of who we are – rather than who we might like to be. Here are just some of the ‘one another’ statements from the Bible:
> Fellowship with one another – 1 John 1:5-7
> Confess your sins to one another – James 5:16
> Offer hospitality to one another – 1 Peter 4:9
> Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another – 1 Peter 5:5
> Do not lie to one another – Colossians 3:9
> Comfort and encourage one another – 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:1
> Spur one another to good deeds – Hebrews 10:24
> Do not slander one another – James 4:1
> Do not grumble at one another – James 5:9
> Agree with one another – 1 Corinthians 1:10
> Serve one another – 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 2 Corinthians 4:5
> Have equal concern for one another – 1 Corinthians 12:25
> Do not be conceited, provoking and envying one another – Galatians 5:26
> Restore one another – Galatians 6:1
> Bear with one another – Ephesians 4:2 – Colossians 3:13
> Be kind to one another – Ephesians 4:32 – 1 Thessalonians 5:15
> Sing to one another – Ephesians 5:19-20
> Submit to one another – Ephesians 5:21
> Wash one another’s feet – John 13:14
> Live in peace with one another – Romans 12:16 – 1 Thessalonians 5:13
> Honour one another – Romans 12:10 – Philippians 2:3
> Stop judging one another – Romans 14:13
> Accept one another – Romans 15:7
> Teach and admonish one another – Romans 15:14 – Colossians 3:16
> Greet one another with a holy kiss – Romans 16:16 – 1 Cor. 16:20
> Love one another – John 13:34-35
Now, let me ask you something: Can all these ‘one anothers’ happen in just one worship service a week? No, of course they can’t. That list itself demands a community of faith which shares its life together, just as they did when our Church was born!
Sunday worship gatherings have a purpose. That is where congregations gather together in celebration and corporate worship and to receive teaching and to celebrate communion and to share some fellowship. It is certainly not meant to be the only thing that happens each week for those who belong to the family of God and for most of us right now, that weekly gathering is not happening at all because of a pandemic. But being the Church consists of so much more than that weekly get together.
Just imagine if we had only spent an hour or two once a week with our own families all those years we were together. What kind of relationship would we have with each other? How close would we be? How united in purpose would we be? How loved and appreciated and encouraged would we feel? How much would we be able to give to one another? How much would we even know each other?
Well, so it is with the family of God – the community of faith – the Church. Without the willingness to be involved in the lives of others, neither you nor they will grow and become the wondrous miracle the Church is meant to be.