“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” -Acts 2:42
The early church saw many signs and wonders, as are recounted to us in the Bible. They worked in unison lifted one another up when necessary. The book of Acts shows not only a history of the church’s first steps, but it also provides an outline of behaviors, followed by the results of these behaviors. Those who accepted the word of God as truth came together and, as the above verse states, devoted themselves to 1) the apostles’ teaching, 2) fellowship, 3) breaking of bread, and 4) prayers.
I would like to consider one of these behaviors in this space: fellowship.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fellowship as “a community of interest.” Acts chapter 2:44 states, “all who believed were together and had all things in common.” The early church consisted of a group of individuals who came to Christ, advanced in like-minded behaviors, as outlined in verse 42, which resulted in great blessings and, as verse 44 shows us, they were together and had all things in common. They were successful in creating a “community of interest” and benefitted greatly from their fellowship. Through their behavior, they lifted each other up in the name of Christ as we are called to encourage one another.
This passage demonstrates one of the most obvious reasons why fellowship in our lives is so important. Fellowship; or the pursuit of community with a common goal (which in this case is worshipping Jesus) provides us with encouragement and support. Without living in communion with fellow believers, we remove the opportunity to provide for each other’s physical needs and encourage one another in prayer or reading of the scriptures as we are also called to do in the same verse we’re called to live in fellowship.
Earlier in chapter two we see a great miracle where the Lord’s disciples speak in different languages, and this resonated with countless individuals from faraway lands as they recognized their own languages. This shows us that God’s power is awesome and transcends any kind of barrier. We also see that God’s church has always consisted of those from incredibly diverse backgrounds. If we look closely, we will find countless verses with God’s people worshipping him “… from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…” (Revelation 7:9). God made us different from one another, and intends to see us all worshipping him together.
In our natural lives, we know that when we interact with those from different backgrounds, we tend to be more productive and profitable (Weiner 2014). This is attributed to a multitude of factors including the fact that we expect to be challenged differently from those of dissimilar backgrounds as we are unsure what to expect (Phillips 2014). Those who gathered at the time of Pentecost are connected in the sense that they happened to be in the same place at the same time and that many of them gave their lives to Christ, but we have no real evidence of much anything else to unite these individuals other than their common belief in Jesus Christ.
If we are God’s creation, we must accept that we are all his creation, those who are similar, and those who are dissimilar. This passage clearly shows that the only similarity needed to form a community and benefit from one another’s company is a common belief in Jesus Christ, followed by engaging in the behaviors we are commanded to follow: read his Word, share with one another in communion, share with one another to provide for physical needs, and to pray. As we share in communion, we are met with the realization that God’s word is for everyone and that God has built every one of these distinct cultures and languages, giving us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to be better. Let us then encourage one another to share and learn from all indiscriminately as the Lord has called us to share to all “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole of creation.’ ” (Mark 16:15).
Fellowship isn’t just about sharing with those who already believe. Fellowship is about building a community of interest centered around the worship of Jesus Christ. We were commanded to pursue this community and our command holds true to this day. Building our community requires the extension of a relationship to those around us, and those further away and the encouragement to all to seek the Lord. I want to encourage you to embrace the diversity of our planet as an opportunity bring a diversity of laborers into our fellowship and creating Christ centered communities out of those from every nation and peoples. Let us pursue fellowship both within our more natural communities and without, to include all of creation.