Acts 2

Read Acts 2.

What is “fellowship?” It is a term that we Christians use frequently. But do we really understand what it means?

A lot of people think that “fellowship” is a word for “socializing but with my Christian friends.” Socializing is fine; an important part of life, really. But it is not the same as fellowship.

This chapter describes true fellowship. The chapter begins with a massive evangelistic movement in Jerusalem brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 1-41). God kick-started the church through this Day of Pentecost movement.

Verses 42-47 describe how this early church instinctively began to function. Verse 42 says they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.” You know as well as anybody how much I think we need to be devoted to the apostles’ teaching. But we also need fellowship, and need it badly.

So, if these believers were devoted to fellowship, as verse 42 said, what did that look like?

Communion (“the breaking of bread”) and prayer are mentioned in verse 42 and they certainly are aspects of fellowship. When we gather together around the Lord’s Table and when we pray together, we are sharing (that’s what “fellowship” means) in deeply spiritual, Christian practices.

But the rest of the paragraph in verses 44-47 also give more details about the practice of fellowship in the first church in Jerusalem. Think about our church as we look at those details:

  1. “All the believers were together” in verse 44. They just liked to hang out together in their free time. Do we? Or do we come late on Sunday, leave as soon as possible after the service and never come in contact with anyone else from church until next Sunday?
  2. They “had everything in common” even selling “property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (v. 45). They fellowshipped by showing sacrificial generosity to each other. Do we do that? Do we look to share what we have with believers in our church who need stuff.
  3. “Everyday they continued to meet together…” They came together daily to worship and hear God’s word. They couldn’t get enough of it and came everyday to fellowship around God’s word. Is that your feeling or is one message a week on Sunday morning almost too much to take? I’ve often wondered why so many people stay in the lobby eating donuts during the Calvary Class hour instead of going to a class to feed on God’s word with others.
  4. “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God” (vv. 46-47a). After the church service was over, they went to each others’ homes to share more food and worship together. When was the last time you had someone from church over? I mean, before “social distancing” became the norm?

After the restrictions from this COVID-19 pandemic are lifted, people are going to want to socialize like never before. And, honestly, I’ve been praying that this forced separation will ignite in us a hunger for God and for true fellowship with each other like we’ve never had before at Calvary.

But we don’t actually have to wait until the restrictions are lifted. We can call, text, FaceTime, or email others. Do you look for opportunities to fellowship with others in our church or do you avoid it like the pandemic?

Will you join me in praying that God would use this to build some real prayer groups and ministries in our church? Will you look for a way to connect with someone from Calvary for some personal fellowship–not just socializing but sharing the word and prayer together?

Luke 17

Read Luke 17 today.

Leprosy was a horrible disease to contract in the days Jesus lived on this earth. In order to keep from infecting other people, lepers had to live alone, away from society. If they came near anyone else, they had to warn them by calling out, “Unclean!” If you contracted leprosy, your family would never touch you again and the only human companionship you’d ever know again was from other lepers.

It was social-distancing long before it became cool here in 2020.

Lepers would watch parts of their bodies rot away and fall off until, eventually, they died. So you can understand why lepers were so eager to meet Jesus and when they saw him, according to verse 13, they “called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’”

Instead of making new skin out of mud or laying his hands on them or even waving his hands toward them, Jesus just told them to find a priest and have him check their skin. This was required by the Old Testament law for someone who wanted to be re-admitted to society after having a skin problem that cleared up. Between verses 14-15, they were healed. In verse 14b they expressed faith in his word by obediently turning to find a priest. But, according to verse 15, it took a few moments before they actually realized they had been healed.

Of the ten men who were healed of leprosy, only one of them returned to thank Jesus (v. 16a). And he was less than subtle about it; according to verses 15b-16a, “when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him….”

This is what you’d expect from someone who not only just saved and extended your life, but made it possible to return to your family and friends. But, of all the men Jesus healed, he alone gave glory to God and thanks to Jesus and, to top it all off, “…he was a Samaritan.” That continued a pattern in Jesus’ life of being received best by outsiders.

Jesus made a point of highlighting that only 10% of the cleansed lepers gave thanks to him and glory to God for their cleansing. His point is one that we should consider as well. People frequently ask others to pray for them but, in my experience at least, rarely give glory to God when the prayer is answered.

Furthermore, genuine thankfulness is in scarce supply in our world. We should serve God by serving others in love without expecting to be thanked but thankfulness is a trait of godliness (see Colossians 2:7, 3:15 and 17 for just a few examples).

Do you live a thankful life? Do we notice when God answers our prayers and give him praise and glory for it? Do we thank his servants, his children, when they are good to us? These are habits of a godly life.

While we’re stuck in this weird, COVID-19 world, we have the opportunity and the time to reach out to others. Is there someone you should thank? Make a phone call to that person today and let them know how much you appreciate what they’ve done in your life.

And don’t forget to thank God in prayer for his goodness to you. Life is weird right now for us all, but we don’t have leprosy, we do have what we need, and this crisis will pass. Let’s be thankful for how God is providing for us and for his promise to keep providing for us in post-coronavirus world.