Whenever we moved to a new town, among our first priorities was to find a church. My husband and I both grew up in church. We met in a church and enjoyed the blessings of the community of faith. Church is the place we “belong.” It is also a place we love.
The first believers established the church concept as Luke recorded it in the book of Acts. In Acts 2:42-47 he described life in this little Christian community: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer” (v. 42). The apostles accepted Jesus’ commission to “teach them to obey every I have commanded you” (Mat 28:20). Their priority was teaching and the church’s role was learning for the purpose of obedience. Not just to fill their heads with information about Jesus, but to understand who He was/is, to understand His mission, and to follow Him in it.
They also gave themselves to “the fellowship” – notice the “the.” It wasn’t about the camaraderie; it was about what Paul would later call “the body.” One people with many moving parts all working together for one purpose: The glory of Christ and the expanse of His kingdom. And there were elements that fostered that oneness: “the breaking of bread and prayer.” This means both sharing mutual common meals and sharing in the sacred meal of communion. One of the most powerful experiences I’ve had was serving the communion elements. As I handed each person a piece of bread, I said, “This is the Body of Christ, broken for you.” That communion service brought the reality of being part of the Body to life for me. It was profound and I’ve never forgotten it.
The first church also gathered regularly and faithfully to pray. Something tells me they didn’t pray for Aunt June’s infected toenail, but they prayed for power, boldness, opportunities, wisdom, and direction. Then again, maybe they did pray for Aunt June for they shared their lives, their needs, their sorrows, their struggles, and their possessions. They were one in every way.
But I want to draw your mind to one word: “devoted.” This means they gave the community of faith their constant attention. Church wasn’t squeezed into their busy lives when they found the time. Their life was lived around and among the body of believers and their shared faith. They were together in the temple and in their homes. The temple was the place of witness and homes were the place for fellowship – for “glad and sincere hearts” joined together in “praising God.”
Are you a devoted part of a local church? Not just there when there’s nothing else on your calendar, but regularly, faithfully, wholeheartedly. You will find no better place to grow, heal, learn, lean, and give yourself away. Beloved, find your place in the Body.