And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And 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. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2: 42-47
One of our goals for 2017 here at Harbor Church North Shore is to be a people that are deeply immersed in Biblical community. I think many of us read Acts 2:42-47 and get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but if we’re honest, we don’t necessarily think that that kind of community is a reality for us today. But how wrong we are! Biblical community is not something we will ever drift into. We won’t just wake up one morning and find ourselves living out that kind of sacrificial love for our brothers and sisters. It takes a deep humility and dying to our own comfort to live immersed in Biblical community.
We are overwhelmed with worldly propaganda that tells us, “You are all you need. Love yourself. Follow your heart. Pursue your dreams. You can do anything you set your mind to. Let go of anyone in your life that tells you otherwise.” All you have to do is spend five seconds on a Pinterest inspiration board to find this kind of nonsense. We live in a culture of self-sufficiency and independence. And it’s no surprise we have a hard time trusting others. Many of us have experienced deep and lasting hurt at the hands of people we trusted.
Unfortunately, this is not only true in the world; many people have been deeply hurt by unhealthy church communities. In many American churches, vulnerability is not valued. You are supposed to show up on Sundays with a smile on your face. When someone asks how you are, you respond with some, “I’m just so blessed,” type of answer. God is not fooled by our facade! He does not ask us to get it together before we come to Him. We are completely helpless in our sin before He initiates a relationship with us. He pursues us and saves us out of darkness, just as we are, brings us into the light, and then begins to clean us up. Even after he saves us, we are dependent on the Him daily to convict and sanctify us, which can be a slow and very difficult process as we live in a depraved world with broken bodies and minds.
So why would we expect others to come to church or community group already having it all together? We should be a community that is a safe place for people to open up about their sin, struggles, hurts, and weaknesses; where we can pray for one another, and bear each other’s burdens. The problem is, most of the time, no one wants to be the first person to admit that he is struggling. We all like the idea of being there for others, but how hard is it for us to be served? To be encouraged? To be exhorted? Our pride is a powerful and deceitful thing. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. Once one person is honest about where they are at, it allows others the freedom to be honest as well. God wants to free us from it through our church community!
The reality is, we are slow of heart. We all need the gospel every day. We never outgrow it. We need constant encouragement to remember the incredible good news of the gospel, and what it means for our lives and hearts! The Bible says we can be blind to sin and walk around with a plank sticking out of our eye. We desperately need to be around other believers so that we can see our blind spots. Often just the presence of another believer who is stronger in an area can be enough to convict us and encourage us to live more like Jesus. Sometimes, as much as it offends our ego, we may even need someone to lovingly pointing out our sin to us.
The message of Christianity is very clear – we do not have it together; and that’s why we need Jesus! It is also why we need one another. Acts 2:42-47 reveals how the early church did not neglect worshiping together, and they were day by day in each other’s homes, eating together, living life together, praising God with glad and generous hearts. When we witness God answer prayers, give people victory over sin, heal broken relationships, and save loved ones, it will certainly drive us to greater worship and thankfulness. When the world sees the kind of unconditional love and trust we share, they will be drawn to question what kind of craziness would prompt people to live this way. May many be drawn to Jesus because of our unconventional commitment to one another as a biblical community!