Summary: A communion message about the need for community.

Breaking Bread

October 2, 2016

Acts 2:42-47

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the new food pyramid? It looks like this . . . It’s a little different from what we are used to seeing. Notice it shows someone going up stairs, so there is that intimation that we are supposed to exercise as well as eat right. I’ve always struggled to know how much of what I was supposed to eat, according to the chart.

And to be honest, when I look at that chart, it doesn’t match what I always thought the food chart was supposed to look like.

This is what I always thought the food chart was supposed to be. Yup, that’s my food chart. Isn’t that what the pyramid is supposed to look like? {I made a food pyramid of fast food signs} I always found this really easy to remember. In other words, there’s no restaurant that didn’t have something on my food chart.

In the book of Revelation we read about banquets and marriage feasts. And our thoughts about food groups goes out the window. Not only do we get to spend eternity in heaven, and have an amazing time with Christ, but we get to eat the best of the best foods.

Well . . . for the Jewish people and middle eastern folks, meals were huge events. Meals were more than just something you enjoyed because the food tasted good. Meals were an event that could last for hours. Attend a real Passover Meal, and it will last from 3-4 hours. Meals were a time when you would invite people and even people you didn't know. Hospitality was so important in their culture. The purpose was to have deep fellowship with one another and there was kind of a divine nature to meals. The fellowship was rich and deep and that was a way to help you experience the presence of God.

We are in a series helping us to learn to love like Jesus. We’ve looked at forgiving others like Jesus. Last week, we looked at serving like Jesus through the image of washing feet.

Today, I think it’s kind of obvious want image I want us to look at . . . . Jesus breaks bread. Many of the first century believers believed you could experience God best in the context of community as you were breaking bread, doing life together. In fact, on the night before He was betrayed, Jesus sat with His best friends and He broke bread with them. And that has become the image of what we’re to do when we remember what Jesus did for us on the cross, as we take communion in a little bit - - remembering the body and blood of Christ.

I want to look at the fellowship or community we’re called to experience. We’re going to look at what I believe is the greatest and most powerful passages of the Bible which describes community. I really believe this is the best picture of the early New Testament community. It’s found in Acts 2 ~

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the BREAKING OF BREAD and the prayers.

43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

46 And day by day, attending the temple together and BREAKING BREAD in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

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

Did you notice the image of breaking of bread? Luke tells us these folks were devoted. Their coming together was not accidental. It was not occasionally, it was intentional. They were devoted to the fellowship and the breaking of bread. They were devoted to learning and giving. It sounds like an amazing community.

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were what? They were all together. Why? Because they were constantly breaking bread, doing life together. Verse 46 tells us DAY by DAY, that means everyday they were coming together. That tells us something about the early church. They were all together and had everything in common.

Nobody had a need, because they met all of the needs. They were together and they sincerely loved one another. There wasn't some boy who had a need, but it was little Johnny who was the son of Mary and Jim who are in our community and they cared so much about people. If there was a need, they would make sure this need was taken care of. All the needs were met in their community because they had this awesome deep committed fellowship. And everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts breaking bread, doing life together.

Can you see the fellowship, the commitment, the love they had for one another?

They praised God and enjoyed the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number — DAILY those who were being saved.

Does that look like our lives? It can. Honestly, I really believe it can happen. There was so much love, that there was so much power, and because there was so much power, there were miracles and lives were being changed and people were coming to know Christ. Can you imagine the excitement and fun they were having?

Can you imagine being so devoted to one another, sharing whatever you have, knowing it will be given to those with a need, knowing, when you have a need, you know there are no worries, you will be taken care of too!

But . . . . our world is not there, are we? Partly, we can thank Willis Carrier for changing the world. Now, I want you to think about this - - - What did Willis Carrier invent? The Air Conditioner! When I was growing up my parents and most of the parents in the neighborhood sat outside talking to one another. Every summer night most people were outside. But do you know what happened? We purchased central air!! We no longer went outside on steamy nights to cool off. We stayed inside, as did our neighbors.

Then we went from detached garages to attached garages. Now, with the attached garage, you could open the garage door from inside the car, drive in and go straight into the house. You never had to talk to anybody.

Then technology blessed us with answering machines. You never had to answer the phone again. You could screen the calls. Then came caller ID. We go shopping in our homes on our computers. We keep up with family and friends on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

So, remember what Luke was telling us in Acts 2 ~

The believers were devoted and committed to one another, supporting one another, eating together, celebrating, they were awe struck at the works of God, there were miracles, they sold their possessions and gave to whoever had need, they broke bread, they ate together. Praised God and their numbers were growing daily!

Does that sound about right?

Let me give you the modern version ~ ~

The Christians were devoted to themselves and occasionally got to church when they had time. No one was filled with awe because there were no signs and wonders performed by the believers. Very few of the believers were together and they had almost nothing in common because they had no real time for each other.

If they sold something, they used the money to buy something better for themselves. They ate on the run, kept to themselves, and were too rushed to enjoy one another or give praise to God. They claimed to love God but they didn't really love each other and they felt very empty and alone. As a result, most people disliked them and their numbers were decreasing.

If you want to say, "Ouch," you can. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but not too far from where so many of us live today. I want to present to you an opportunity, an opportunity for something so much better.

We are called to be a committed community of people, who break bread together because we have a deep love for God, we believe God deeply loves us, We trust God died for us . . . and we are overwhelmed by His power and grace.

On top of that . . . we love one another and we can’t wait to get here and check in with one another, and we want to see one another and encourage and strengthen one another. We truly want to celebrate the presence of God, knowing God is so good that we just can't do that alone.

As we talk about breaking bread, the image I want you to have in your mind is sharing Jesus. Break bread, the body of Christ. You enjoy Jesus, I enjoy Jesus, but we do it separately. Yes, we’re together in here, but we’re really not together.

You see, we live in a world which craves independence. I want to be financially independent - - relationally independent -- spiritually independent. I don't want to need you. Our country worships independence. The problem is this - - - - to be a follower of Jesus is the direct opposite of being independent. To be a Christ follower, is actually to be dependent.

You cannot save yourself and you can not make it yourself. To be a Jesus follower means you are completely dependent on the grace, mercy, power and love of Jesus, the presence of God, AND we are to be dependent on one another because we were created to be in community. To be a Christ follower is to be dependent upon God and upon His people.

So, on the one hand we are called to have a personal, individual, unique relationship with Christ. It is personal because it is my relationship with Christ. It cannot be your mother’s or father’s or anyone else’s relationship. It must be uniquely yours.

And at the same time that we have a personal relationship with Christ, we must have a shared relationship with Christ. It’s shared because we relate to Christ within a community.

Consider what the author of Hebrews says in 10:24-25 ~

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

I love what this says. Firstly, the author says, “consider” -- that’s not meant for us to think it’s if we want to do this. The word consider means “to fix one’s thinking, to decisively act.” You are to stir one another - - - which is literally – – to provoke or incite someone. The definition of stir up is – – a provocation which literally jabs (or cuts) someone so they "must" respond.

So, we are to decisively act in a manner which provokes another Christ follower to love and do good works. Yet, the idea behind it is to do all of this . . . not in anger or maliciously, but to do it all in love.

He goes on to say ~ 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25

The author then tells us NOT to stop meeting together as is the habit of some! OOH! That one bites a little! We want our freedom and independence. We want to come and go as we please. Remember, we strive for independence, not dependence. We don’t want to be told we have to go to worship every Sunday. We want to find other alternatives. Yet, we’re reminded we need to be here every week. We need to be worshiping together. It’s part of the shared relationship we have with one another. When we are not all here we are less complete as a community. That’s the fact.

One of the biggest challenges today is that people have given up on corporate worship. We hear comments like, “Oh, I can worship God in my home. I don’t need the church. I can experience God in nature.”

Yet, I’m convinced presence matters. There's power in presence. There’s power when people come together in the name of Jesus to worship, to love you, to care about you, to pray for you. There’s power in presence. It’s the ministry of presence.

Imagine if in my home I was watching a movie in the kitchen, Debbie was in the bedroom, and Zachary was in the family room - - and we’re all watching the same movie. We aren’t together. This sounds ridiculous! That wouldn't be as much fun. Why? Because there's something about experiencing life together that is incredibly powerful.

Yet, what happens in the church world for so many people - - - and you’re all off the hook because you’re here this morning . . . but if you skip worship on Sunday for something else . . .

The weather's bad, let’s sleep in. Weather's nice, let’s do yard work. We're tired. The game went too late. I ate too much last night. I’ve had a busy week. Whatever it is, if you find something else to do . . . then don't be surprised when your kids or grandkids have a low view of worship and don’t believe they need community.

Presence matters. If you want something better, you have to choose something better. I believe there's something better. To worship God, to share Jesus together and be committed to worship Him together, to hear His word together, to praise Him and fellowship with Him and others, to be involved in the lives of others, celebrating with others, hurting with one another, serving together . . . being involved . . . together. Jesus broke bread. It was about relationships.

Jesus broke bread with the disciples. It was part of His last meal. In the same way, we are called to break bread together. Not just once a month when we do communion, but we are to come together as a body, as a family, we are to call out to one another in love and grace, to stir one another up, to provoke them . . . in a good way to love one another to do good works. To share Jesus with the world around.

I have always been struck by the Acts 2 church. There are times when we come close, but we hang onto our independence over our call to dependence.

When I was in seminary, I was part of a small group of guys who met every week and one another’s apartments. We prayed together, talked together, laughed together, cried together, struggled together . . . and of course, we ate together. It was the most intimate community I have ever been part of. Out of the group came my best friend, Tim, a pastor in Iowa. In many ways, we did what Luke described in Acts 2.

When I consider our church, we’ve had some amazing community. Amazing caring and love for one another. I’m awe struck at your grace. We have a great ability to laugh together and to cry together.

As great as it is . . . I want more. I want you to want more. It all comes from the fact that Jesus broke bread. He gave Himself to you and I so that we could enjoy community and fellowship. He sent the Spirit for you and I.

Today, He calls us to take communion. To share in the broken body of Jesus. If you know Jesus. If you proclaim Him as Lord and Savior, then this table is open to you. Take, eat . . . know the Lord of Lords and King of Kings loves you. He died for you!