by Pastor Dennis Legazpi
There are four must-do's that Jesus designed the first church to practice – devote themselves in apostle's teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread and prayer as described in the book of Acts:
41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.
– Acts 2:41-46(NASB)
Focusing on fellowship which is more than social activities, Jesus intends His church to share a common life of building and deepening their spiritual life together right after the pentecost.
3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
– 1 John 1:3, 6-7 (NASB)
But over the years the vibrancy of this common life steadily eroded as the early church exhibits division among members and disharmony.
18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
– 1 Corinthians 11:18-19(NASB)
Church nowadays are no exception, we loose the vibrant fellowship by limiting our involvement to our local church or sometimes to our local group; we don't have a say and consider ourselves as not integral part of the body of Christ; finally we are not mindful of this indispensable community, we forgot that we are to feel and care for each other. In conclusion, we cannot detach ourselves from others and fellowship only to the people we like.
The Lord does not meant us to have an under nourished life of superficial interactions with other believers, instead he designed us to have an active loving concern and growing love among one another. Oftentimes this requires difficult situations that some church members need to go through so that the church will come together to encourage and pray for the hurting family. Unpleasant moments where people stood together to support and offer a helping hand in various ways, because God meant this common life to be shared. He intends that we as a body of Christ embarks on this common life together even if we don't know each other.
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 less those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
– Romans 12:10, 13-17(NASB)
The Bible offers us various verses how we can exercise this common life characterize by oneness. Some could be impossible or not practical to do as how the world sees it but by the grace of God, and His loving nature through us, it is possible to live a common life.
Romans 12:10 - Loving one another,
Ephesians 4:2 - Tolerance of one another in love
Ephesians 4:32 - Kind to one another, forgiving one another
Ephesians 5:21 - Submitting to one another
Philippians 2:3 - Humble toward one another
Colossians 3:13 - Bearing with one another
Colossians 3:16 - Admonishing one another
1 Thessalonians 4:18 - Comfort one another
1 Thessalonians 5:11 - Encourage one another
Hebrews 10:24 - Stimulate one another
James 5:16 - Confess sins to one another, pray for one another
As a practical application, think of someone, a friend or family member who could be sick or hurting, whom you think needs an encouragement you could give. Think of someone who may have wronged and hurt you in the past, and choose to forgive that person and pray for him.