People are hard. Relationships are hard. Community is hard. Church is really hard.
As Christians we are called to be in fellowship with each other. It is no small thing to be a part of a larger group of people and live life together. It ends up messy and ugly and people get hurt. But its also beautiful and full of joy and life and hope. The Acts 2:42 church is probably one of the best examples of church/life/fellowship in action:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts goes on to describe a beautiful picture of a faith community that lived together, worked together, served together:
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.
It's funny how, when we talk about the church in Acts, we focus on verse 42 and the devotion to teaching, fellowship, eating and prayer. Which, of course, are all good
things. The part that trips me up every time is verse 44 "all the believers were together and had everything in common."
I'm sorry. What?
All the believers were together and had everything in common.
No one has everything in common; that is just crazy talk isn't it? We all have stories of times we felt unloved by the church because our opinions didn't jive with everyone else's. We have all been hurt because people didn't do enough to make us feel welcome, or we felt our gifts weren't appreciated.
We were created as individuals with individual gifts, interests, ideas. This individuality can't help but create division, right? What could it possibly mean to be together and have everything in common?
Well, what if we were so connected in our fellowship that our individual gifts, ideas, talents weren't a source of contention? What if we were so focused on Christ and selling our belongings and giving to those in need that we didn't have time to focus on other's shortcomings? What if we were so passionate about sharing the love of Christ that there wasn't time for preference?
Then we, as a church, as a community, would be together and have everything in common, wouldn't we? We wouldn't be able to help it. Anytime we are focused on God and not ourselves beautiful things happen.