Summary: How can we experience genuine fellowship? By walking in His light!
God’s Light Calls us to Fellowship
Acts 9:26-31 – fellowship community
22 December 2002
Series – Christmas: A Celebration of Light!
Our series is simply, Christmas: A Celebration of Light! And throughout our series, we have been anchored by one main verse from the gospel of John - John 1:4
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
Today, we are going to learn how God’s light calls us to fellowship and we will also discover both the obstacles to fellowship and then the bridges to fellowship. Within Acts 9, we will see how Christ desires to produce deep fellowship amongst his people, so the world will know we are his disciples.
1A. First, let’s look at the obstacles to fellowship.
1B. Fear (26)
The text states, Paul was “trying to associate with the disciples.” Saul’s attempts to become one of the disciples failed dramatically. But it wasn’t Saul’s fault. Luke’s word suggests, Saul was trying to find his place within the community; There was one problem, however. The church was afraid.
The tense of the verb “afraid” suggests they were continually being afraid of Saul. Now why do you think this might be? Obviously, they knew Saul from before he went to Damascus. Saul was the one who began arresting believers in Acts 8; he was the one who with heartily agreement witnessed many stone Stephen to death.
A certain preacher once had a bad, bumpy flight. For the rest of his life, he hated airplanes. One time he sat down next to a calm passenger who noticed the preacher’s nerves.
"Why are you afraid, Preacher?" the passenger asked. "Doesn’t that Bible of yours say God is with you always?"
"No, that’s not exactly what the Bible says," the minister responded. "The Bible says, ’Lo, I am with you always.’"
These folks in Jerusalem were had a low view of God which caused them to fear. Notice what their fear was based upon. They were “not believing he was a disciple.” Ever have that thought: Oh, God could never save a person like that. He’s too far gone; she’s gone over the limit. She has a reputation, you know…” Fear of fellowship is common among God’s people. For example, there is the fear
of being hurt
of past hurts (old wounds)
Fear is the cancer that consumes our love for others.
1A. 2B. Persecution (29)
As Saul was talking to the Hellenistic Jews he began debating with them. It is here that I find some more interesting irony. When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, to whom did he target? The Hellenistic Jews. Who else was ministering to the same group of people before they stoned him? Stephen, right? I find it very interesting Saul continued the very ministry he attempted to halt by stoning Stephen.
Now, these same people who participated in the stoning of Stephen now were going for Saul’s jugular. They wanted him dead just like Stephen, thinking this would put to bed any dealings with this movement called The Way! The final obstacle to fellowship is…
3B. Geography (30b).
One item I believe we often forget when it comes to fellowship is geography. The farther apart I am from someone the more likely the relationship may erode. Now this isn’t always the case. I have a friend in North Carolina and one California who are very close. But even then our relationship isn’t what it used to be about a decade ago while we were in graduate school. But geography doesn’t just mean distance measured in miles, it may be the distance of an aisle between you and another believer.
It takes an effort on both parties to keep fellowship going when geography becomes an obstacle. But knowing that, we can prevent that erosion from occurring. But how do we do that?
2A. We build bridges to fellowship
1B. Kindness (27)
While the whole congregation of the Jerusalem church is in a state of fear, one man stands apart. The text states, “But Barnabas…” I find it amazing most times this man’s name comes up in Acts, he is reaching out to someone who is in need of fellowship.
The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.
All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.