temple courts (verse 46), and they ate together (verse 46).

This passage mentions three times that they ate together. Shared meals played an important role in the life of the early church. As we learned at our church picnic two weeks ago, the First Rule of Church Growth is this: “If you feed them, they will come.”

Take a look at verses 44-45: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

Having my friend Pastor Ray here a couple weeks ago reminded me of something he told me once. As you may know, he’s from the South. One of the most challenging things for him living in Chicago is that it’s difficult to find a restaurant that serves grits. I asked him once what a “grit” was. He told me that there’s no such thing as a “grit”. They don’t come by themselves ­ they come in a community of other grits. You can’t just order one grit.

You know, we’re a lot like grits ­ some of us are “grittier” than others. We’re not here on our own ­ we’ve been created to be in community with others. Other people have touched our lives -- parents, neighbors, friends and teachers (Sunday School). Some touched you for the better, and others may have made you cry.

God made us that way. He said that it is not good for human beings to experience the oppressing, isolating aloneness that wounds the heart. Genesis 2:18 says that “It is not good for man to be alone…” God made one human being and said, "They don’t come by themselves."

You and I were created for community. That’s why our topic this morning is so important. You were made to have intimate relationships, to serve people lavishly, to share the stuff that you have, to build into the lives of the people around you, to have people to whom you can entrust the secrets of your heart and to laugh, praise, pray and cry with other human beings. Many of you are experiencing that every week in your TLC group.

But, here’s a weird truth about human beings. While we long for community, we also run from it. It has been said that when humankind fell from grace, we inherited not only a tendency to hide from God, but a tendency to hide from one another as well. We struggle with conflicting desires. On the one hand, we desire to be close to one another, and on the other, we want to hold others at arm’s length. We have learned to be suspicious of other people’s motives. At times we’ve been taken advantage of and we fear being burned again and so we erect barriers. These barriers effectively insulate us from one another, and become an impediment to true community in the Church.

Jesus prayed, in John 17:22-23, that we might be one, even as He and the Father are one: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”