Never Alone

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“All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared everything with each other.”  Acts 2:44

I started reading this and the following verses yesterday.  It made me just want to stay here and think about it more.  So I’m going to read these verses again.  “All the believers kept meeting together, and they shared with each other.  From time to time, they sold their property and other possessions and distributed the money to anyone who needed it.  The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day.  They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food.  At the same time, they praised God and had the good will of all the people.  Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group.”  (Acts. 2:44-47)  Now I think that’s beautiful.

Not only is it beautiful, but it’s true.  This is what was really happening.  And if it was happening then and pleased the Lord, since He shared it in such a positive light, then it could happen again, now, and please You, Lord, in the same light.  I mean, it wasn’t like these were believers who had been believers forever and a day.  Here were thousands who had recently come to know You and this was their response as a whole.  If I go back a couple verses I see that these new disciples were “devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.”  If that was important for them and it lead to the behavior like I just read and that lead to more people coming to know You, then I need to ask myself something.  Does my life and outlook look like that?

What were the things that were important to all these disciples?  The Word.  They were devoted to the teachings of the apostles which not only included Your thoughts and words, Jesus, but the truths already established in Your written Word.  They were hungry to learn more of You, Lord, and understand more.  Fellowship.  They were devoted to fellowship.  They belonged to this community of believers.  They depended on each other.  There was a communication of close interaction.  They were intwined.  Communion.  I’m pretty sure that many would gather to eat at each other’s houses and provide for those in need.  But I’m also pretty sure this was about sharing communion together.  This was about breaking the bread and drinking the wine together, being unified in Christ, and truly sharing what they believed and what You had done in their lives.  I think this was about intimacy and transparency in worship.  Prayers.  These believers prayed together and I’m pretty sure they prayed for one another.  They could pray for one another because they knew each other that well.  So, are these four areas in focus in the same way in my life?

How do I know if they are in focus in the same way?  Well, for these believers, they were wholly devoted to these “pursuits”, these “attitudes”, this way of life.  The King James Version says they “continued steadfastly.”  That’s the word “proskartereo” in Greek.  It’s a big word that produces big action from a big heart.  Or maybe I should say from a full heart?

So here were these people who had newly become believers and some who had been following Jesus for quite some time.  But they had one characteristic in common.  They were continually devoting themselves.  “Proskarterountes” is made up of the Greek word for toward (pros) and to be strong, steadfast, and firm (kartereo).  It’s all about being “totally committed.”  This was what living was all about for them.  They were strongly, steadfastly, and firmly pursuing You, pursuing understanding, pursuing cooperation, pursuing unity.  Skip Moen describes them as people “who hung on every word, zealous, hungry, perhaps even demanding.”  Is that my attitude?

Kartero, the verb which comes from the root kartereo, actually points us to “bearing burdens and enduring severe harship voluntarily.”  Is that what was going on here?  And where did that idea come from?   Do these verses ring a bell?  “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.”  (John 13:34-45)  Paul shared, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour prefering one another.” (Romans 12:10)  Galatians 5:13 says we should “by love serve one another.”  Ephesians 4:2 instructs me to “forbear one another in love.”  And in 1st Thessalonians I am told that the Lord will increase my love and make me to abound in it toward others, and that You are the one who teaches us how to love one another.  And why do we love like this?  Because You first loved us like this.  You so loved us like this that we ought to love others in the same manner that You loved us.  (1 John 4:11)

Now, let me think about that.  You hungered for God’s righteousness and for His Word and His will.  You wanted to impart that same hunger to us.  You WANT to impart that same hunger to us.  You Do impart that same hunger to us when we abide in You.  You became Emmanuel for us, God with us, so that You could fellowship with us.  The example for the church after Pentecost, that we’re looking at in the believers in Acts right now, well, it’s modelled after the model of You and Your disciples.  It’s the relationship You have modelled for us and You have always wanted with us.  Imagine that, God fellowshipping with me!  You were the first one to bring communion to us but it was more than a ritual.   We imbibe of You.  You abide in us and we in You.  We become one in You as we receive Your death and Your life unto ourselves.  You commune within us and allow us to commune with You by the power of Your Holy Spirit.  And You prayed.  You prayed to the Father, You prayed for us, You taught us how to pray.

So what’s going on in Acts?  You are going on in Acts.  You have come alive in the hearts and minds and actions of believers.  This is what a believer looks like and acts like and feels like.  This is what ought to drive me forward.  This is the kind of hunger I should have.  This is what I ought to be totally committed to.  This is what ought to burden me.  Your heart.  Your desires.  Your ways.  Your self-sacrificial care for others.

Our lives, as believers, aren’t just intertwined, they are “indissolubly intertwined.”  What does that mean?  According to Noah Webster, it means that they are intertwined “in a manner resisting separation; firmly united beyond the power of separation; in a manner not to be dissolved or broken.”  We are that needy of each other in You.  We are necessary to one another inYou.  We were designed to live for each other.  I was designed to care for the physical needs of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I was designed to keep them from feeling alone or abandoned, to keep them from feeling unwanted or unnecessary or ignored.  I was designed to help them if they were hurting , pick them up if they were faltering,  rejoice with them, rejuvinate them, repair them if they were crushed.  And this is what the body of believers was designed to do for me.

And I am so grateful to You, Lord, that You are surrounding me with believers like this.  They have made an eternal difference in my life.  I know what community and unity is because of them.  I know what Your love is like because of the ways You have used them and they have responded like You.  And I want to be not only devoted to You, but I want to be devoted to them.  And actually, it’s not a choice, because You command it.

Skip Moen thought about this too.  Because it’s worth meditating on, over and over again.   And it’s worth living out in my life.  I agree with his words so much that I want to finish by sharing them.  “Isn’t this what we seek today? Are you tired of a church that is only a building or a weekly obligation? Do you hunger and thirst for a community of belonging? Do you want a community of acceptance under grace? I do.  I long for the peace of being continually devoted to the community of God’s redeemed. I am ready to give all I have to that community.  I need these people in my life.  I want a life that is continually devoted to them.  Do you long for God’s version of the fellowship of believers? Are you continually devoting yourself to that vision? It will mean taking active steps away from religion. It will mean openness and vulnerability. But God is there, waiting for us to learn what love really is. Don’t give up searching. You are not alone.”  Amen, Lord!  You will NEVER leave us alone.

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