Community 3: Being
We know that we need community, and that our church family is the most important human relationship we can have, so now what is that supposed to look like according to the Bible? Let us examine the activities and attitudes of the church throughout the New Testament to see what we can learn.
Acts of the Apostles
The new organization, called the Church, started the day of Pentecost, after Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. They were also called ‘Followers of The Way.’ Acts 2:38 describes how to become a part of this body: ‘Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ You may ask, ‘Then what?’ What did they do, and how did they act? Acts 2:42 describes their priorities: ‘They continued steadfastly in doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.’ So, their focus (besides family, friends, and job) was on teaching from God’s Word, time with God’s people, and remembering Christ’s sacrifice by honouring the Lord’s Supper (Communion). They also spent much time praying together.
Further on in verse 44 their attitude is revealed. They have gone from being self-centred, work focussed people, to being selfless, service focussed ministers. No one had needs, because everyone looked after everyone else! They sold things that they didn’t really need, and provided for those who couldn’t support themselves, especially widows and orphans. For those who like to attend church once a week, you could learn from the example of the early church. They met daily (v46) to ensure that everyone was looked after, and that their new friends or family were growing spiritually. Attitudes of gladness, and simpleness prevailed over all others, as they sought to live for others and for Christ, rather than for themselves. Due to the actions listed above, and the attitudes I just talked about, people were attracted to, and joined, the church on a regular basis.
Take note that they did not take attendance or worry about having a certain number of people in church on Sunday, but rather that their attitude and actions grew the church to the glory of God. Also note that the act of joining the church was not just about attending, but was primarily about receiving the gift of salvation from Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit from God. This is a lesson we need to learn, especially in North America! If we are doing these things, and having this attitude of love and generosity, then people will be attracted to Christ and join His church.
It is also very important to note that everyone came and participated in the church activities, using gifts given them from the Holy Spirit. Nobody came just to enjoy and to receive. Nobody went from one church to another because of preferences or style. Every local body of believers is representative of the whole. Faithfulness to God also means faithfulness to the local church that God has placed close to where you live. This means faithfulness to regular involvement with your church family, making sure all people’s needs are met, and that you are worshipping together ... more than just Sunday mornings!
As we discovered last time, your church family is more important than your birth family, your job, or your friends. These are your best friends. These are your spiritual brothers and sisters. These are the ones that will help you grow closer to Christ, and become like Christ. These are the ones that will keep you accountable and be a good influence in your life. So, how much time are you willing to spend with your Christian family, to invest in their lives, and to meet their needs?