Joke: How does Moses start his morning? – Hebrews a pot of coffee!
The church began on the day of pentecost. The spirit of the lord came, 3000 were converted and the church began.
What does the word say?
ACTS 2:42-47 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
- What stands out in this definition of church?
- Do we still think about church this way?
- How has COVID-19 changed how we think about church?
“Common shared life” “Breaking off bread”“Prayer” “Common trust so they could provide help for each other”
All expressions of fellowship. A community of people committed to one and another. This is the first expression of the life of church. Mutual commitment to each other.
In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul gives another metaphor for this kind of common life that should be in any “church” community. 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
This is the defining character of the church. A body with a common life under one leadership which is Jesus Christ. Unity, shared life, commonality, community: FELLOWSHIP.
Christian fellowship is meaningful
Christianity is not a spectator sport that happens on Sunday, it is a common shared life with other believers.
In a grey dawn of an April day in 1945, in a Nazi camp in Flossenburg, a pastor by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed. He was executed by special order of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s executioner. Hw has been arrested two years before and over that period he had been moved from prison to prison. From Tegal to Berlin to Buchenwald to Schonburg and finally to Flossenburg. Because of the moving, he lost all contact with the outside world. Everyone he knew was severed from him. He lost, according to his own testimony the most precious possession he had and that was Christian fellowship. He wrote a book called “Life Together” based on Psalms 1:33. He wrote in that book about the richness of fellowship which he later lost up until his death.
“The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparably joy and strength to the believer, a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God. How inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians!
“Let him who until now has had the privilege of living in common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”
We are a living organism dependant on each other. Fellowship is so crucial so to this.
Growing up, fellowship meant going to fellowship hall. Where they served stale cookies and dilute to taste Ribenna. Talk of fellowship there was superficial. But true fellowship is spiritual. It’s about being one.
This is the high priestly prayer of our Lord Jesus in John 17.
That everyone who would be saved through redemptive history would be one. That we today would be one. The prayer is answered because that is what happens when you believe. You are placed into the union of the body of Christ. You are connected to a long history of other believers and you are part of a long future of believers if the lord tarries
But you see this should work it self out in our conduct with each other.
- Why don’t we see this radical togetherness? Why don’t we see a shared life?
- What is stopping true Christian fellowship?
- Organisation vs Organism – Do we think organisationally about church rather than embracing the body as an organism.
- Doing Life together? – To do life together means to journey with each other. Continually sharing and re-sharing. – Do we do this?