Summary: In Acts 2:42, fellowship is named the 2nd item the church devoted themselves to. Why 2nd? Was that a mere accident, or was there a special importance God wanted us to see in that part of worship?
OPEN: I’ve heard from several people in our congregation church (as well as a number of preachers I’ve spoken with) and everybody seems to agree this lock-down is getting old. Online worship is OK… but it’s no replacement for real church.
Well, everyone is tired of online worship with the exception of Mrs. Jones (a cartoon showed on the overhead that showed a bedraggled woman in the center aisle of a church building wearing bunny slippers and a bathrobe and carrying a cup of coffee) “Mrs. Jones got a little too used to watching online worship from home.”
I found it interesting that in Acts 2:42 it’s says the church DEVOTED themselves (in other words, the early Christians put a premium on the following items in worship) “… they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the FELLOWSHIP, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Notice, the 2nd item in that list was fellowship. What that tells me is that, not only did the early Christians put a high priority on getting together - so did God. Paul wrote (2 Timothy 3:16) that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” So the author of this verse is God, and God put fellowship 2nd in the list. I think there’s a reason for that being in 2nd place… but we’ll look at that later on in the sermon.
Right now I want to explain what fellowship is. Someone once said: “Fellowship is 2 fellows in the same ship, rowing in the same direction.” By extension, that means if you’re NOT in the ship, and you’re NOT pulling on your oar… you’re NOT in fellowship with anybody.
Now, there are folks who will try to tell you they can be just as good a Christian without being involved with the church. But that’s not true! That attitude reflects a kind of counterfeit Christianity. People like that don’t mind being in a ship, as long as they don’t have to share it with anyone else.
But real Christianity doesn’t work that way. Without doing “fellowship” you can’t obey Jesus. Fellowship is as important as good doctrine; it’s as important as partaking of the LORD’S SUPPER; and it’s as important as PRAYER itself.
You see, fellowship is all about focusing on somebody other than yourself. Philippians 2:3-8 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should LOOK NOT ONLY TO YOUR OWN INTERESTS, BUT ALSO TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
That passage tells us that Jesus did what He did, because He surrendered His advantages. Jesus gave up his rights as God, so that you and I could be saved. And now He is the model of how we should treat others.
Fellowship is all about considering other believer’s needs above our own. That’s why Acts 2:44-45, says that “all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
You see, these early Christians weren’t commanded to sell their possessions to help out the poor in the church - but they did it anyway because they had devoted themselves to fellowship. Fellowship is when we serve others. Fellowship is when we count the needs of others as more important than our own.
That’s why there are so many “one another” passages in the Bible (there are 62 of those verses by my count). In John 13:34 Jesus said "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”
Romans 12:10 tells us “BE DEVOTED TO ONE ANOTHER in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor ...”
And Romans 14:19 says “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the BUILDING UP OF ONE ANOTHER.”
These are just a few of those “one another” passages, but notice - each one of them talks about what I MUST DO FOR Others, not what others must do for me! That’s the nature of fellowship… it’s what I do for others.
Now, let’s go back to that one verse: Acts 2:42 which says “… they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the FELLOWSHIP, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Now if I’d been God, I’d have put fellowship at the end of the list. To me, fellowship doesn’t seem as important as doctrine, or communion, or prayers. I mean, I like fellowship and all that, but fellowship would seem not to be an element of worship as much as a “by-product” of worship. But on closer examination, I’ve come to believe that proper worship at the Lord’s Table, and proper praying before the throne of God, depends upon good fellowship.