“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.” (Acts 2:44-47)
This was a great description of the first century church. They would come together regularly and worship. They would share meals together. They would help one another out. They were a family. That should be what the church should look like today. There should be that feel of a family because as followers of Jesus, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is a family, it is not a business. And yes, there are times when even family members don’t get along but they come together to resolve problems.
All people should be able to point to their local church and say “There is my family.” Nonbelievers should be able to look at the church in the community and see loving people who serve and take care of others, who worship God and love Him. If you’re a part of a community of believers like that, celebrate that and invite others to be a part of that. If you’re not part of a community like that, seek one out. It is such a blessing and is something as believers we’re all called to be about in following Jesus.
A couple of days ago, I was checking out my Instagram feed. I don’t have many pictures on my account (just 1 at the moment) but I have lots of friends who have lots of pictures on theirs. So anyway, as I was scrolling down I came across one picture. It was a picture posted by a friend that I knew from college but haven’t had much contact with since then. The caption more than the picture is what caught my eye. The caption read “This girl went to church today. Some of you will be proud; others surprised.”
It got me to thinking, as most things usually do. If I said that I went to church, would there be people that are surprised? Should you be surprised that I was in church? Now granted I’ve served in the ministry so for a lot people the answer would be no but still. Even among my non-believing friends, would they be surprised that I went to church this past Sunday?
When I lived in Seattle and worked with church plants and served on staff with a campus ministry at the University of Washington, I also participated in a recreational co-ed flag football league that played on the weekends. Over the course of about two years or so, I got to know several of my teammates fairly well and vice versa. They knew I served in ministry and that I followed Jesus. I’m sure if you had asked them were you surprised that Michael went to church, they would say no they weren’t surprised. And some of them weren’t followers of Jesus either but yet they wouldn’t be surprised.
The reason I say that is because gathering together for corporate worship is a component in the life of a follower of Jesus. If you say you’re a Christian, then one of the components is to join together with other believers on a regular basis to worship God in a corporate way. Just as much as spending time in prayer and studying the Bible, it’s important to gather together to worship to be encouraged and to challenge one another. And it’s a place (hopefully) that all people can come and hear the Gospel and grow as followers of Jesus (or become one if they’re not one).
Should you be surprised? No matter who you are, one person for sure wouldn’t be surprised…Jesus.
“But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Matthew 9:12-13)
Jesus speaks these words to the crowd that is around when he is spending time eating with Matthew, a former tax collector whom Jesus called to be a disciple. It’s a declaration to everyone Jesus’ mission. He came to heal, to restore. He came to redeem sinners. What an encouraging thought. We are all sinners who need redemption. We are all sick in need of healing. Jesus comes directly to us. We just have to invite him in. He still does that today. He wants to redeem us. He wants to heal us. We have to accept what he’s offering.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
We are not meant to live life alone. We were created to live in community. In living in community, we are to care for one another. We are to like the verse in Galatians 6:2 says ‘bear one another’s burdens’. When we are living in community as followers of Jesus, we are able to better reflect Him. We are showing first hand Christ’s love when we care for one another. So this week, find someone who’s hurting and come alongside them and care for them. If you are the one that’s hurting, express that with others so they can come alongside you.
It is never easy nor is it ever fun to deal with tough times. This is the case not only for yourself but for others as well. We all go through tough times. That is pretty much a given in this fallen world we live in here. We deal with pain and hurt. Sometimes it’s of our own accord and actions and other times it’s circumstances beyond our control. But the good thing is that we are not alone. As followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit who comforts us in those tough times. As well, we are called to come alongside those who are hurting and be with them.
I know for me, that when I am hurting there are times that I just want to draw up inside like a turtle inside its shell. But I have come to learn that is not the way to deal with the hurt. I need my friends and fellow believers to come alongside and grieve with me or encourage me or simply to just be there. The one thing about the story of Job that gets lost sometimes is Job’s friends did do something right. At the beginning, they spend time with Job in silence. They were there for their friend. We need to be willing (myself included) to be when people are hurting.
This summer has been one of hurt for me and it has been for some of my friends as well. Even in my hurt, I have grieved for others who are hurting too. I have prayed for them in the midst of the struggles they’ve been going through just as others have been praying for me. And though I’m still in the midst of my tough time, I know that I need to be there for others who are hurting at this time too. This is something that has hit home for me more than any other time in my life. One may think “When things are better for me, then I can be there for others when they’re hurting.” but that’s not the case. In being there for others even when you are hurting, God is using that opportunity to heal you as well.
If you are going through tough times right now, find someone to talk with and be in community. God did not intend for us to make this journey alone. Look for others to lean on through this time and be willing to let others lean on you. If you’re going through a smooth time, even more so be there for those who are hurting.
Pray for one another, grieve with one another, laugh with one another, fellowship with one another. That is what we should be about as followers of Jesus, to show others that we are truly followers of Jesus and that we have a hope that gets us through tough times.