Immediately after the Church was established, God gave us a model for how to grow as individuals and have unity among the believers. This simple "formula" is just as important for our growth and unity today.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42
- God gives us the power to have supernatural harmony.
- Having Jesus in common is more powerful than anything else that might divide us.
- Real fellowship means giving, sharing and being sacrificial.
- We must choose to activate our faith and exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit
- The Word of God is an essential foundation for growing in faith and in community.
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This section of scripture gives us four key components to creating a supernatural community.
1. The Apostles Teaching
From the onset, these believers made learning about the truth of God a priority. The Apostles were students of Jesus and eyewitnesses to Jesus’ earthly ministry, his life, his death, and most importantly his resurrection and ascension into Heaven. During Jesus’ three year public ministry and the 40 days that followed the resurrection, He taught the disciples many important things about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
The witness and testimony of the Apostles was shared with the early believers and eventually became documented as the New Testament. It’s important to recognize that Jesus also frequently quoted the Hebrew scriptures validating the continued importance and relevance of the Old Testament. As John told us in the opening of his gospel, Jesus is the Word of God and He was God. This means Jesus was the full expression of God in the flesh. The Apostles took what they learned from Jesus and passed that information along to the new believers.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom. 10:17
The Word of God is the Truth of God that anchors everything else.
The Greek word for fellowship here is Koinonia. This is a complex idea that doesn't easily translate to a single word in English. It includes the concepts of sharing, joint participation, being one, and intimacy through association.
It suggests valuing togetherness over isolation. It also suggests an attitude that giving to others is more important than what you get in return. It’s not about coming together to “network” or to make yourself feel good by hanging out with people you like. It’s about loving people and building them up for their own good.
3. Breaking of Bread
Eating together is very practical. We spend time together, and we get hungry. We must eat to sustain ourselves.
As we eat of the same food, it nourishes us and strengthens our bodies. When people share food from a common table, we are united by the same nourishment. But it goes deeper. People bond over meals as we share stories and we pass food. Eating together unites us both physically and emotionally.
Breaking bread also speaks of sharing in communion at the Lord’s table. (Luke 22:19) We are united spiritually when we come together to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ that covers all believers. (1 Cor. 11:24)
4. The Prayers
The final ingredient in this recipe for a super community is prayer. Throughout scripture, prayers can generally be grouped in three categories.
Worship – We sing and speak praise and adoration offering thanks to God and recognizing His goodness. The Psalms are an early example of songs and praises that Israel used to corporately worship God. (Psalm 95:1-11, Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19)
Supplication – We bringing our personal requests and our needs before the Lord knowing that we have a loving father in Heaven that desires to give good gifts to His children. (Phil. 4.19, Matt. 7:11)
Intercession – We stand before the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters and ask for His power to work in their lives. (Eph. 6:18)
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1
Praying in this way opens us up to God’s authority and allows the Spirit of God to work through us. This is an expression of a loving community that cares for and ministers to each other. In the midst of praying for one another, we grow in grace and compassion for our brothers and sisters and even for our "enemies." (Matt. 5:44)
Becoming One In Christ
As we come together to practice these four key activities, we are united as one body under the head of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18).
“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Col. 3:11
In the body of Christ, it doesn't matter who we are, where we come from, or what lies in our past. We are one in Christ above everything else that might set us apart. As believers, we all have Christ in common, and we are all being transformed by same Spirit to be more like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
While this supernatural community is made possible through the finished work of Jesus Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit, it doesn't happen automatically. God gives us the opportunity to activate our faith by moving in response to his command.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34
When the God of the universe and the creator of all things (John 1) issues a command, His word goes forth with the power to accomplish His command. Whether we feel it or not, we are called to move by faith trusting that the Lord will meet us with His power as we begin to love and forgive and sacrifice our own rights for the benefit of others.
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Col. 3:12-14
God calls us to live in “perfect harmony” with one another. As we live in community, God supernaturally enables us to overcome any differences or offence by recognizing how much God has already forgiven us. When we live in response to God’s love, we can choose to “put on” love for the good of others independent of our current feelings. If we respond in obedience and move in faith, our emotions are not the driving force of our actions.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Heb. 10:24-25
We must meet together to have community. We must come together with the express purpose of encouraging each other in our faith. When our lives our shaped by the truth of God’s word, our attitudes are aligned for fellowship, and our hearts are prepared with prayer, we can experience a true supernatural community that is a powerful force for God’s glory.