Summary: In the New Testament there are no "Lone Ranger" Christians. Believers needed each other. Learn how we could benefit from a similar community.
CREATED FOR COMMUNITY
The huge redwood trees in California are amazing. They are the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are 300 feet high and more than 2,500 years old. You would think that trees that large would have a tremendous root system, reaching down hundreds of feet into the earth. But that is not the case. Redwoods have a very shallow root system. The roots of these trees are, however, intertwined. They are tied in with each other; interlocked. Thus, when the storms come and the winds blow the redwoods still stand.
With an interlocking root system they support and sustain each other. They need one another to survive. So do we!
Hence, God has given us His Church which is the body of Christ on earth. When one is baptized into Christ, one is baptized into the body of Christ. Through Christ we are bound together in a community of faith. Belonging to Christ we belong to each other. Fellowship with Christ means fellowship with each other. Through Christ God has made us a family, a community of faith. This is our God-given support system. As such, it is intended to meet some crucial needs in our lives.
Our text for this morning tells us that the very first community of believers gathered together on a regular basis for worship, prayer, study and fellowship. Acts 2:44 says, “…ALL THAT BELIEVED WERE TOGETHER…”
It wasn’t easy to follow Christ in the first century. Times were tough and persecution rampant. The early believers were bound together into a fellowship, a community. They needed each other; there is strength in numbers.- It also isn’t easy for us to follow Christ and truly live for Him. Discouragement. Temptation. Sin. Apathy. Failure. Materialism. Unbelieving family and friends. Doubts. Rejection. Unanswered questions. We face so many obstacles in our desire to live for the Lord. God, however has not left us on our own to run the race and fight the battle. He has given us each other.
Our text reveals to us the proper focus of a community of believers. Acts 2:42 says, “THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES TO THE APOSTLES’ TEACHING AND TO FELLOWSHIP,TO THE BREAKING OF BREAD AND TO PRAYER.”
The teaching to which they devoted themselves was the message about Jesus proclaimed by the Apostles. Jesus, the divine Son of God and Savior, was crucified and buried but He rose from the dead. The apostles’ teaching included the words, actions, and teachings of the Lord. The breaking of bread is a reference to the Lord’s Supper that they observed. It also referred to other times when they gathered around a common meal. Teaching, fellowship, praying and the Lord’s Table were the focal points of the first Christian community.
In his book The Connecting Church, Author Randy Frazee writes, “The experience of authentic community is one of the purposes God intends to be fulfilled by the church. The writings of Scripture lead one to conclude that God intends the church, not to be one more bolt on the wheel of activity in our lives, but the very hub at the center of one’s life…..”(36/995)
The church or a local community of believers is essential to our spiritual well-being. In the New Testament there are no “Lone Ranger” Christians. Believers needed each other and God expected them to be there for each other. Likewise, we need each other and God expects us to be there for each other. God has ordained that we play a vital part in each other’s faith. For that reason we are commanded in Hebrews 10:25 not to, “…GIVE UP MEETING TOGETHER, AS SOME ARE IN THE HABIT OF DOING, BUT LET US ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER….” God has a purpose for putting us together.
And as Henri Nouwen points out, “We are unified by our common weaknesses, our common failures, our common disappointments and our common inconsistencies.”
Luke informs us that “ALL THE BELEIVERS WERE ONE IN HEART AND MIND.”
They were united in Christ into a community of faith. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit they possessed the “MIND OF CHRIST.” They made every effort to be led by God’s Spirit and to think and act like Christ. Consequently, God used this community of faith to do some powerful things in the lives of countless believers, living in a pagan, godless world. God’s plan hasn’t changed. He still desires to use His Church to do some powerful things in our lives. The community of faith is absolutely crucial to our spiritual well-being. Through it God desires that we find strength for the journey, places to minister and a never ending source of guidance.
As we face the inevitable trials, troubles and tragedies of life on this sin-marred earth, God intends that we be supported, strengthened, encouraged and empowered through the community of believers. As we face the storms and temptations of life we should receive strength from each other. Such is God’s plan.