42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
In our Scripture passage today, the word “together” stands out. These early Christians “were TOGETHER and had all things in common.” They constantly “met TOGETHER in the temple complex, and broke bread TOGETHER from house to house.” The sense of togetherness was strong as they enjoyed fellowship with one another.
Their foundation—what brought them together—wasn’t their ethnicity, religious background, or socio-economic status, but their faith in Jesus Christ. He was the common denominator for their life together. And because of Christ and through Him, “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.” These acts, done in community, brought a power through which lives were transformed and God blessed as He added to their number daily who were being saved.
Donald Whitney writes, “Nothing can be further from the truth than to think of the Spiritual Disciplines as a part of the Christian life unrelated to the fellowship of believers.”
God has put in each of us a need for community, a need to walk with others in the same direction with Christ as the bond that holds it together. As we practice the disciplines together in community—praying, meditating on Scripture, silence, worship, evangelism, service—God works in powerful ways to transform our hearts, grow in our relationship with Him and with others.
“As the body of Christians is built up collectively, the increases strength of this fellowship contributes to the spiritual growth of the individual and encourages his or her pursuit of Godliness through the spiritual disciplines.”
It was the summer of 2010 and I was a part of a small missionary team to Toronto. Our mission was to partner with a group of career missionaries whose calling was to share the gospel with a large and growing Muslim community. The work was hard and oftentimes discouraging, and I looked forward to the opportunity to encourage and minister to them.
When we arrived for dinner the first night at the home of a missionary family, I was astonished at how excited they were to see us. They received us as if we were rock stars, so grateful for our presence and filled with joy for opportunity to meet and share with us. Yes, they were excited about the work we would do and the partnership we were developing together, but even more so for the Christian fellowship and community we provided for them.
In an environment hostile to Jesus and void of Christian fellowship, they had new friends and fellow believers with whom they could share life and community. We stayed for hours—praying together, sharing together, and reading Scripture together. When the night was over, they didn’t want us to leave.
This experience taught me the value of Christian fellowship and community and how often I take it for granted. There was a supernatural power present in the fellowship that evening, and the spiritual practices we did in community served to join our hearts together.
- LIFE Groups are great environments to practice the Disciplines with others. Have you joined an off/on campus LIFE Group?
- In a society and culture that encourages individualism, what people in your network can you intentionally connect with to practice the disciplines together? Can you start a Bible reading group at work? Can you begin a small group in your home?
- Talk to your spouse about practicing a spiritual discipline together. Is it possible that in doing so your marriage would improve?