Growing up in the South, I thought fellowship was a noun, a thing. I always used to hear “there’s going to be a fellowship.” And of course, in the South, it always revolved around food. In fact, to make it alliterative, we always talked about food, fun, and fellowship. The three could not happen independent of one another and when fellowship happened, it was understood that food and fun would be accompanying it. What really is real biblical fellowship?
The real companionship or communion that describes real fellowship is found in...
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.
The text says that one of the proofs of fellowship is that all of the believers were of “one heart and one mind.” I love that! Don’t be confused here. It’s not saying they all agreed. It’s not saying they all liked the same things. They each had their own personality and maintained their own individuality, but they were of ONE heart and ONE mind. How is that possible? I believe, in part, it’s possible because they had the bigger picture in mind. Have we lost the big picture in North America? Our churches sometimes act as clubs to which we are members and when we don’t get what we won’t, we complain or move on to another ‘club.’ Is that the picture of the New Testament fellowship we see here? I don’t think so.
The people in John and Peter’s day saw the big picture. And they were able to see the big picture because their focus was on the right person: Jesus. Notice they prayed and worshipped, and as a result of their focus, fellowship happened. They had ONE heart and ONE mind. Does that describe your church? Is there ONE heart and ONE mind? For that to happen, each individual mind and heart must be focused on the WHO of Christ. And for that to happen, it means self-denial. Not a common word you hear anymore, especially in our churches. We think self-denial is a bad thing, but it’s obvious that without it, there is no way a group can be of ONE heart and ONE mind. Are you wiling to deny your self for the wishes of someone else? Do you have to always get your way? Are you the one always being served?
I must be honest. I am still working on this. But I think I have come a long way. What really begin to change my heart were long-term mission trips out of the country. I have had the honor of seeing God at work in many countries like the Dominican, Haiti, Bolivia, Brazil, and Africa. In each of those overseas trips, God always took us by surprise. Schedules changed, transportation was not dependable, we were unable to meet at regular meal times, the amenities of indoor plumbing and/or heat and air-conditioning were not always available. In a sense, God used these experiences to break me and humble me. I began to realize the things I thought I needed to survive were not really needs, they were “wants.” I remember standing in a shower in Salvador Brazil looking up at the sky one morning. Yes, it was no inside shower. A showerhead sticking out of the side of a falling concrete wall and semi-warm water, that was it. I was there leading worship for a M.K. (Missionary Kids) Camp. Standing under that showerhead that morning, I thought to myself, “If I can handle this, I can handle anything.” I realized that week (and am reminded every time I go overseas) that most of the stuff I get agitated about when it comes to material possessions really doesn’t matter that much. I wonder if that was how the people in Peter and John’s day felt. It had to be. We are told from the text that they shared everything they had. When someone had a need, the group met it. Do you belong to a church like that? Are there people in your church who have a need that is going unmet? Have you seen your church provide for people in your midst in a phenomenal God-like way?
Follow Jack on Twitter @jackeason