October 1 – Fellowship

Introduction:

I am convinced that 2017 will go down as a year of great ‘turmoil’ in America.

Rodney King’s famous quote, “Can’t we all just get along,” almost rings more prophetic than ever!

koinonia

{koy-nohn-ee’-ah}

Meaning: 

1) fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse 1a) the share which one has in anything, participation 1b) intercourse, fellowship, intimacy 1b1) the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office) 1c) a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship.

(NAS)

“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.”

Romans 16:17

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; (Phi 2:3 NAS))

What Separates?

cultural divide

 is “a boundary in society that separates communities whose social economic structures, opportunities for success, conventions, styles, are so different that they have substantially different psychologies”.


[1]


A cultural divide is the virtual barrier caused by cultural differences, that hinder interactions, and harmonious exchange between people of different cultures.

For example, avoiding eye contact with a superior shows deference and respect in East Asian cultures, but can be interpreted as suspicious behavior in Western cultures.


[2]


 Studies on cultural divide usually focus on identifying and bridging the cultural divide at different levels of society.

The word “tradition” itself derives from the 

Latin

 

trader

literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping.

A tradition is a 

belief

 or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.


[1]




[2]


Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like 

lawyers’ wigs

 or military officers’ 

spurs

), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—

————————————————————————————————   

6 Traits of Authentic Christian Community

In Acts 2:42–47, the Scripture provides a beautiful and compelling picture of Christian community. This snapshot of the early church offers a template for authentic community that churches should seek to follow. If we would build these traits into the relationships in our congregations, not only would we inspire passion among our people, but also God would honor and bless such powerful community.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 

(v. 42)

Halfhearted, semi-devoted people rarely accomplish anything of value. Part of the character of a God-honoring community is full devotion and passion toward the things that matter most. People are uninspired by unworthy causes or by leaders who expect anything less than their very best to achieve mission. We should be a place that reflects full devotion to Christ, to each other and to the causes of Jesus.

Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.

 (v. 43)

People want to be a part of something God-sized. In truth, God stands ready to work in and through a willing community who follows Him with faith and courage. Here in Acts 2, people prayed and expected God to answer. We should build a church that thinks about and prays to achieve that which can only be accomplished through God’s supernatural power– trusting Him to do it.

All the believers were together and had everything in common.

 (v. 44)

A Christ-honoring community displays loyalty, dependability, mutual support, respect, and grace to one another. They are not just unified. They have a strong sense of the priority of unity. They make unity work. They know it takes effort. It means letting go of petty differences and self-centered agendas. It also results from the core culture of the church believing that what we are to one another is as important as what we’re doing together.

They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 

(v. 45)

In the course of achieving mission together, needs arise within individuals. People become disheartened. We experience distress. We incur personal hardships. We all have struggles. In biblical community, people are not blind to the needs of others, and they respond by seeking to assist, encourage, and generously meet needs. In biblical community, sincere care and concern takes place between members. And, when meeting needs demands generosity and sacrifice, the Christ-filled community steps up.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

 (v. 46)

People in healthy Christian community enjoy downtime. They know they must give effort and hard work, but they also spend a measure of time in fellowship and relaxation. They eat together, laugh together, and pursue common interests outside of work or “ministry.” This provides levity to offset the sometimes-difficult work that people are doing, and it also allows them to get to know each other in a context beyond a ministry environment. This reaps the benefit of even greater unity and commitment.

. . . praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

(v. 47)

Along with the sense of awe that resulted from seeing God answer prayer, those in the first church saw evidence that God was doing something outside their requests or expectations. They saw that God was doing a work of His own and that they were connected to a power beyond them. This was a work that transcended their efforts and connected them to God’s eternal purpose. God was transforming the real lives of people through divine salvation and was bringing them into His church. I imagine that as they witnessed life after life, person after person coming to faith, this created a sense of shared destiny—a feeling that they were being swept along by the current of God’s Holy Spirit for some sovereign purpose and were joined by God himself to his eternal plan.

This final trait of community is one that cannot be manufactured by people. It is in fact a divine result of purpose, love and unity—in other words, a gift of grace. But be sure that, while we cannot produce this sense of shared destiny, we can certainly undermine it or even prevent it from arising. We do this partly by failing to seek to build the kind of authentic community God desires between his children. In truth, Christian community is the receptacle for God’s sovereign and supernatural work. God loves to fill His people with His presence and power when they are one in heart and purpose.

 

What unites?

 

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