Monday, August 22, 2011

More Than Just Acts 2

Acts 2:42-47 is a celebrated (and rightly so) picture of what fellowship and community should look like amongst believers. But check out Paul's letter to the Ephesians too. I think Ephesians 4 complements Acts 2 really well, therefore making both passages all the more applicable to the growing Christian church.

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:11-16.

No other New Testament passage describes the church in action quite like Ephesians 4. Christianity is a faith that is God-directed, Christ-defined, and others-oriented. Christians are part of one body (or in another way, are part of each other) and therefore are to receive, think about, serve, love, build up, submit to, and encourage one another. Christianity is relational because God is relational. Our faith offers a strong basis for positive interactions with other human beings, simply because we share the distinction of being persons created in God's image. But relations among Christians have a much broader and firmer foundation. We share an identity in Christ.

Sadly, people in society today place such a low value on being truly connected, and those in the church are not much better. Why so sad? Because there are so many blessings that flow from being connected to the body of Christ! And who doesn't want to be blessed right?

You can't fully grow into everything God wants you to be unless you are connected to a local church or community. There's a great quote on Steven Furtick's blog on this very topic. "You must follow Jesus for yourself, but you can't follow him by yourself." (Side note: if you want more biblical encouragement or relevant sermons check out Elevation Church). I remember how it felt trying to function as a Christian in isolation. There was such a disconnect between my faith and my lifestyle and I hated myself for it. I didn't actually connect to a local church until my family moved to Michigan from Massachusetts when I was a senior in high school. It was then that I got involved in a small group (small groups definitely make a large church seem so much smaller), used my gifts in music to serve on the worship team, and started to build a solid Christian community of friends.  In the years since then, I've made it a point to be engaged in a local church or Christian community wherever I am. And I am totally receiving all the countless blessings as a result everyday.

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