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Life In The Church: Fellowship

Updated: Apr 29





series: Life In The Church

lesson: FELLOWSHIP


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Although we live in a time when we are connected more than we have ever been as a world, we are hearing that we are disconnected. Isolation is felt and seen in each age demographic. 


I have a friend who is a counselor in his community. He commented that he just sits and listens to most of the clients he sees. I thought this was a large part of what counselors did, so I was slightly surprised by this comment. However, as he explained, his clients wanted to sit with someone face-to-face and talk more than they wanted solutions. They wanted to see and talk to another human. In a connected world, it seems we are becoming increasingly disconnected. 


As we consider our series, Life In The Church, we're exploring some of the practices that Luke, in Acts 2:38-47, highlights from the early church. These practices weren't just a part of their life; they defined it, shaping their identity. Today, we're challenged to grasp the historical and ongoing importance of these practices. Why do we participate in what we participate in as a community? As we continue, let's turn our attention to the concept of fellowship.



κοινωνία (koinÅnia) 


Acts 2:42-47 (NASB95)

"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."


Fellowship is often translated in our Bibles from a word that means association, community, or close relationship. Last week, we discussed how Luke has designed his words in a parallel structure to highlight the importance of the movement and what is taking place in the story of God. He is focusing our attention on something he wants us as readers to slow down and notice closely.  


He has highlighted fellowship in (2:44-45), "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." The word common in Greek is closely associated with the word translated as fellowship and means communal, common, or ordinary. Fellowship, in the early church, although it could have been a meal together, was much more than a potluck. What does Luke intend for us to see in the life of the early church?


At Sinai


Something fascinating is happening at Sinai. God reveals to Moses that through His mighty hand, He will free His people from bondage and slavery in Egypt. Notice His words to Moses in Exodus 6.


Exodus 6:6-7 (NASB95)

"Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 'Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."


Consider for a moment that Israel had been in bondage to Egypt for over four hundred years. They had been surrounded by Egyptian culture and experienced all the Egyptian gods. Who were they as a people? What was their culture? What was their identity? At Sinai, God joins Himself in a conventual community with the children of Israel. He tells them that they are a people belonging to Him and that He is their Lord and God. 


Often, in our minds, we look back at the covenant God established with Israel, its laws, regulations, and commands, and we form a negative opinion. Today, we experience life in the New Covenant of Christ (Jeremian 31:31-33Luke 22:20), but for Israel, the covenant was their identity. It formed them as a people. In this covenantal community, they knew who they were. They were no longer a people held in bondage; they were a people who had been freed, and they served the One True and Living God. 


Fellowship


Although our culture differs from life in the first century, what do we learn from the early Christian community? They were devoted to fellowship. They were devoted to one another. Fellowship within the early church community took on actual tangible meaning. It was ingrained in their identity through the Lord they served. They were united together, and there was not me but we


Looking back over the story, fellowship originates in God, from the union of the Father, Son, and Spirit, to God joining Himself in participation with Israel. In the sacrifice of Jesus, who did not limit His giving for those in need, who joined Himself in communion. Fellowship originates in God. It is in the fabric of participation and life in the church. 


The church was a new covenant family that shared life as they participated together. They involved themselves in sacrificial sharing. This family was their identity. Rescued from their sin (Acts 2:38), they experienced life through the Spirit. What is this new life? It is participation together in the covenant family of God. It is fellowship.  


Crossing The Context


In our context, where digital connectivity often substitutes for face-to-face interaction, the early church's example challenges us to reexamine the depth of our relationships within the Christian community. The call to fellowship is a call to live authentically interconnected lives where mutual care and support reflect our shared identity as followers of Christ. This kind of fellowship binds us together and exemplifies the transformative power of God's love working within us.


Why do we come together each Lord's Day and meet face to face? We do so to participate as a community and to be a family. Life in the church is connected in community. 


Practical Steps:


Fostering this type of community is difficult in our culture. We are, for the most part, self-sustaining. Independence is promoted, expected, and celebrated. Dependence on family and community differs from what it was in the past and differs among various cultures. As a community, we need to be aware of the pull towards independence. I am not suggesting that we all become co-dependent or separate ourselves from our culture as some private community. The early Christian community engaged their culture.


Acts 2:47 (NASB95)

"praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."


The early church was not disconnected, private, or exclusive; they engaged their culture. Life in the church is engaged with others. 


In our culture, how can we be intentional about fellowship? Let me offer three practical suggestions:


  • Participate in the community 

Make it a priority to be present when we come together as a community. Prioritize this time in your life. There will be times when work or other conflicts arise, which is understandable. However, participation together needs to be a priority. 


  • Practice Prayer

Prayer should shape us as followers of Jesus. Prayer does not just need to be on Sunday mornings. Organize and participate in prayer gatherings. Pray for one another and for our community. Prayer unites hearts and emphasizes our dependence on God as a community.


  • Practical steps of service and generosity

How can we support one another and the community around us? Caring for each other can promote unity and purpose within the community. 


Life in the church is connected to the community; it is fellowship. Why do we come together and participate with each other in community? We do so because fellowship originates with God and is the fabric of who we are. 





NOTES:

Scripture references and quotations are from the: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.


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