We are created for community and connection.
Even those who describe themselves as introverts (like myself) or those who prefer to keep to themselves. We all crave community. We crave genuine relationships with people we love and trust; we hunger for that friend who can take one look at us and know what's going on; we hunger for that brother or sister we can come to and simply share life with. The church family is no different! We're all one body, one family in the faith. So why do we settle for seeing each other on Sunday mornings and then live separate lives the rest of the week?
It isn't supposed to be like that. Our lives are meant to be integrated in the church so that we shine like a beacon to the world. The church family is proof to a dying world that there is hope and life that satisfies.
The early church got it! Although they were just starting out and it was messy, scattered, prosecuted and they didn't have a Bible except for the Pentateuch, they understood community and they grew. There were key steps in the early church that defined connection:
- They devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, and prayer.
There was a personal responsibility they took on to have a prayer life, willingness to learn and grow, and intentionally engage in fellowship. We have the same responsibility. We're never done praying, growing, learning or doing life with other Christians. It ought to be ongoing because that brings LIFE!
- They worshiped together in the temple and met in homes.
There must be a balance of going to church to worship together as a body, and continue to meet together outside of the church building. To have a healthy, vibrant spiritual life, you need both elements.
- Through it all, they praised God and had hearts of gratitude for His Bride, the church.
Like an undercurrent of the ocean that continually moves and thrives, our hearts must keep an attitude of praise and gratitude. Why? Because as we elevate God above everything else in the world or in our busy lives, we stand victorious as a church.
The early church didn't have it easy, therefore making it easier for them to praise. Their friends and families were being martyred; Roman military was sweeping through the country to eradicate all Christians; people were scattered as far as Germania to Ethiopia to Eastern Asia.
Yet they persevered because they praised God, who is more powerful than any man or force of the enemy, and they remained grateful. When they were scattered, they preached the word. Where did they learn the gospel? Gathering together in the Temple and in each other's homes.
The patterns of the world and the enemy hasn't changed. It's still broken and confusing, dark and uninviting. It's "every man for himself' out there, isn't it? That's why we need to stand together as a unified, loving #ChurchFamily and do life together. We are the beacon of hope, life, and love. So take some intentional time to find out where you can get connected and make lasting relationships in the church. You won't regret it.