“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We watched these past few years as churches across the nation closed down in 2020 and some even through 2021 due to the pandemic. With increasing fear and anxiety around covid, it seems that more and more Christians are choosing not to return to their place of fellowship, which is the church. This is even when government officials have declared it safe. Sadly, houses of worship struggle to rebuild attendance with little success. When I think about the current state of the church, I fear that we have become too comfortable in our home. As believers who profess that we are followers of Jesus Christ, we have lost the desire to worship and fellowship with other believers in the Body of Christ. Most importantly, we have neglected the very command Christ Himself gave when he called us to love one another so the world may know Him (John 13:35).
I fear that we have become too comfortable in our home. As believers who profess that we are followers of Jesus Christ, we have lost the desire to worship and fellowship with other believers in the Body of Christ.
The Apostle Luke wrote about the early church in Acts 2:42-47, demonstrating what the church can be when believers honor their roles in the Body of Christ.
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.
We find this early church was a learning, fellowshipping, praying, and consistently growing body of Christ followers. They knew they belonged to Christ, and thus they belonged to the church. Acts 2:42 says they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, learning God’s Word and studying doctrine together. This was of utmost importance, and they whole-heartedly committed to it. They recognized that at the heart of the church was the truth of the Gospel. This is the main reason why we as believers gather around an open Bible every Sunday, it is because we are devoting ourselves to growing in it.
Secondly, this church gathered together and they fellowshipped. They dedicated themselves to “the breaking of bread”. Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship and it is defined as holding something in common. It describes the unity of the Spirit that comes from Christians’ shared beliefs, convictions, and behaviors. When these shared values are in place, genuine biblical fellowship occurs. This fellowship produces our mutual cooperation in God’s worship, God’s work, and God’s will being done in the world. For example, the breaking of bread is a shared meal symbolizing a beautiful picture of our unity with Christ and with one another as believers. When we break the bread and we share it, we are remembering that each of us is able to live and grow spiritually because His body was broken on the cross. The early church in Acts understood their lives together was not only during times of convenience. Instead, their relationships were intentional, genuine, and real.
Lastly, they set time aside together to pray for one another. They knew prayer was not just a discipline for the believer, but that this was a mutual priority for all of them as they lifted one another up to the Lord. Think about the last time someone prayed for you or with you. How powerful was it to have another person intercede and plead to God on your behalf?
All in all, the believers of the early church were consistent. We can see that it did not just naturally happen but they put work into it “day by day”. What is important here is that if our connection with the church is only occasional or inconsistent, we are cutting ourselves short from growing deep and meaningful relationships that can only arise from a life lived together. This is about being a family in the Body of Christ, and those things do not happen when you are rarely present.
When all believers in that Body work together in this way, true fellowship takes place. God will bless the church to grow! Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The church grew not because of their own wisdom or skills, but because “God added to their number day by day”. God was at work then, drawing men and women to the Body of Christ. I believe He will do the same for us if we too seek to become this kind of family united in the Gospel, sincere in our love for one another, and faithful in our life together. Indeed, God will grant the increase!
If you are a believer and a child of God, you are a part of the Body of Christ. This is even when you do not feel like it, or when it seems that the church does not welcome you the way you would like them to.
If you are a believer and a child of God, you are a part of the Body of Christ. This is even when you do not feel like it, or when it seems that the church doesn’t welcome you the way you would like them to. You must be involved in your local church by
Attending and participating in its ministries
Serving and being accountable for the church.
Encouraging and building up the church.
You need to take responsibility for the oneness of that body, not criticizing, not picking apart, and not destroying it. 1 Corinthians 3:17 says,” If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
If you have been absent from church these past few years, I urge you to return. Of course, take the necessary precautions you need in order to keep you and your family safe. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament teaches us that every believer is to always be under the nurture and protection of a local church. As the watching world looks at us and wonders what makes us Christians, may we be able to say that it is not just in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but may it be because we have a corporate relationship with Christ and that we love His church. That our life is His church!
Bobbie Vang (N. Kx. Albert Vaj)
Bobbie Vang (N. Kx. Albert Vaj) is a pastor’s wife and mother of 3 wonderful children. She desires to bring women to a deep love and appreciation for God’s Word. With her husband, they serve as Next Gen Pastor for the Hmong Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Stockton, California. Bobbie has been a high school English teacher for more than 17 years. When she is not lesson planning or grading papers, she enjoys reading books, going for nice long runs, and spending time with her family.