Summary: From the unity of the Spirit in days of crisis, the church was born with an attitude of fellowship. From those beginnings, the fellowship of the church has been carried on to us.
AN ATTITUDE OF FELLOWSHIP
INTRO: A commercial airliner waits at the extended arm of the passenger loading dock, preparing to embark from a major international airport. It could be almost any airport in the Western world. Without looking directly at one another, passengers filing onto the plane mutter brief apologies as they bump and nudge one another while stowing luggage above their seats. Seat belts are fastened, and reading material is drawn from purses, briefcases, and seat pockets. As the plane finishes its ascent, the passengers exchange introductions with those seated next to them and then seclude themselves into privacy.
These surface personal exchanges would have continued for the length of the flight had tragedy not happened.
When the cabin lurches, the travelers look around them, more startled than frightened. Then the reading light blink on and off, and cabin pressure decreases suddenly. The intercom gives its familiar click, and the passengers listen for the reassuring words of the pilot. Instead, he informs the passengers and flight crew that the engines are stalling. "We still have some time to find and repair the malfunction," he says. "In case we cannot solve the problem, prepare to crash-land."
Suddenly, a change comes over the people on that plane. They speak to each other. They help one another with emergency equipment. In a short time, they come to know these people with whom they share the common crisis. By the end of the ordeal, they are closer than lifelong friends.
Much like the people in the jetliner, the believers of the early church huddled together in the fellowship forced on them by a hostile world. From the unity of the Spirit in days of crisis, the church was born with an attitude of fellowship. From those beginnings, the fellowship of the church has been carried on to us.
I. A FELLOWSHIP OF THE WORD.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. The word devoted (NIV) here may also be translated "addicted." They were given entirely to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, eating together and praying. Whenever possible, they met together to study God’s Word.
The key to fellowship in our church is what takes place in the small group Bible studies of our Sunday School. That is where fellowship is happening in most Southern Baptist churches. We pray for each other and minister to one another as we study the Bible in our Sunday School classes.
II. A FELLOWSHIP OF THEIR WEALTH.
Surprising as it may seem, the way you make use of your wealth is a key to spiritual things. In Luke 16:11, Jesus said, "If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" (NIV). Separated from greed, the members of the early church became sensitive to human needs, even to the point of selling possessions to give to the needy.
III. A FELLOWSHIP OF WORSHIP.
In these verses and throughout the first five chapters of the Book of Acts, we find the words "praising God." When they gathered, the people prayed, preached, and praised the Lord.
One of the things we can do so much better together than alone is worship the Lord. You often hear people say, "Oh, you can worship God alone just as well as you can at church." That is just not true. We need others in the church to remind us to worship. We need each other to encourage us to worship. When we gather in the fellowship of the church and one person says, "God has been so good to me," all of us are reminded of God’s grace. When one person praises the Lord, many others will be prompted to praise Him.
IV. A FELLOWSHIP OF OUR WITNESS.
We often weaken the word fellowship until it means no more than cookies and punch after church. But the New Testament word fellowship is a work term.
ILLUS: I was reading about a preacher who went to Uganda in East Africa as a summer missionary while a student in college. He says, the people in the churches there have a word similar to the N. T. word fellowship. The word is Harambe (ha/ram/ba). The Ugandans used it when two men were moving or carrying a heavy burden, much like we use the words heave ho. Harambe means to pull together. Fellowship occurs in the church when I put my shoulder beside yours underneath the burden of the gospel.
We, like the early church, gather to encourage one another to bear witness to Christ. When we do this, God adds to His church those who will believe our witness and accept Jesus as their Lord, too.
CONC: We need one another in the church. We are a fellowship of the Word, of our wealth, of our worship and witness for the glory of our Lord and in obedience to Him. Are you a part of that fellowship?