2006-12-05 - Coming Together
Acts 2:41-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Togetherness was important to the early church. The book of Acts uses the word together thirty-two times. Assemble or some derivative is used in seven places. The writer of Hebrews encourages us not to forsake the assembling of the saints. (Hebrews 10:25) Togetherness is an important aspect of the church. This togetherness or fellowship is God's plan for the church. The beloved disciple wrote of this so eloquently, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3) We share the gospel with others so that they can fellowship or come together with us because our togetherness is with the Lord. We come together so others can come together with us and we can all be together with God.
There is definitely something about being with other believers - growing together, experiencing life, and aiding one another that is unique about the church. The church is not an exclusive country club designed just for members. It is not a charity designed just for non-members. It is something in between. It is family - family that lifts up those in it and embraces new people with love hoping they can be part of it.
I love my church. I lived a good chunk of my Christian adult life away from church. Boy what a fool I was. I missed so much. If you're not faithfully attending a church somewhere, find one in your community. Books and e-mails are cheap imitations for the joys and strengths you'll find in a real life fellowship.
I'll leave you with an old illustration I've seen or heard many times before.
A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."
This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time, my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"
See you in church next week!
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted