Monday, May 01, 2017

A Shared Faith

“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 2:46-47 ESV)

            We often assume, incorrectly, that the early church was the perfect example for us to follow.  As we read through Scripture, we find that they had their flaws, just as we do today.  We find that they often failed, as we do today.

            That being said, there is something I admire about the early church.  What I’m referring to is the fact that they lived out their faith together.  They lived it out as a community.

            This is something that’s reflected in the above passage.  We see that every day they attended the temple together and broke bread in their homes.  They gathered each day for prayer and for fellowship.

            This is something that’s lacking in the church in our day.  It’s especially lacking in the American Church.  We tend to think that our faith is a private matter.  We tend to think that all we need is “Jesus and Me.” But nothing is further from the truth.

            We see the corporate nature of the Christian faith throughout the New Testament.  For example, in Hebrews 10:24-25, we read: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

            We see in this passage that we’re called to gather together on a regular basis.  And, in this way, we’re to be an encouragement to one another.  We’re able to bless one another.

            In James 5:16, we read this: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

            James calls on us to do something that probably feels strange in this day and age.  He calls on us to confess our sins to one another.  He calls on us to pray for one another.  And he calls on us to do this that we might be healed, that we might be restored.

            In 1 Corinthians 12, starting in verse 4, Paul says: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

            He points out that God has gifted each of us in different ways.  But he goes on to say that these gifts are given for the common good.  What he means by this is that our gifts aren’t given that we might keep them to ourselves.  God gives them that we might bless one another.

            It’s clear as we read passages such as these that the Christian faith is to be lived in fellowship with the Church.  In this way, we’re able to be blessed and encouraged by our fellow believers.  And, in the same way, we’re able to be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

            My encouragement to each of you is to stop trying to live the Christian life on your own.  Live it as God intends for it to be lived.  Let’s live out the Christian life together.  And, in this way, let’s seek to be a blessing to one another, and to work together in reaching our world for Christ.

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