“You’ve got a friend in me…you’ve got a friend in me”! Upon hearing this song, anyone familiar with Disney will immediately think of the light-hearted cowboy character Woody, and his more intense companion Buzz from Toy Story. However, what makes the song great is how it captures what we all hope is the reality of friendship. Friendship exists around a common bond, through thick and thin, and is strengthened by all the shared experiences of those involved. There is something about friendship that causes us, as humans, to rejoice and long for it. But where can this great kind of friendship be found? In a bar?…At a sports arena?…In other places? There is a greater friendship and bond that should be displayed within the church.
We have already discussed what the Church is, the difference between the Universal and Local church, and the structure and organization of the Church. Today, we will examine the three main aspects of interaction that should take place within the church. In Acts 2:42-47, we see the church demonstrate fellowship, service, and unity toward and with one another.
First, the church must be a place of fellowship. In Acts 2:42 and 46, Luke records how the church interacted with one another from the very beginning. Here we see that the new believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship; to the breaking of bread and the prayers; and day by day, to attending the temple together and in each others’ homes. Fellowship starts with a devotion to one another (Hebrews 10:24-25) and the early church had it. They listened to the same teaching, shared the same meals, went to the same locations, and of utmost importance had the same Lord and Savior (Matthew 16:18). At the core of it all was the apostles’ teaching or, as it is now known, the Word of God (2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). In light of hearing God’s Word and the devotion to it, the church exhibited great fellowship with one another, but also great service toward one another.
The second aspect of interaction within the church flows out of their fellowship around the word, and that aspect is service. Back in Acts 2:45, we see that the first Christians served one another greatly, despite the personal sacrifice it cost them. “They were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Now this was no commune. Everyone was not selling everything they had compiling it and then sharing everything–no, no! Instead, they were fellowshipping with each other on such a level that if believers found out that one of them was in need, they would go sell possessions to ensure their brothers and sisters had their daily needs met. We see this going on throughout the book of Acts (4:34-37; 11:29). But this service toward one another was more than a good deed–it was an expression of their faith in God (James 2:14-16) and proclamation of where their true treasure lied (Luke 12:33-34). So the church’s fellowship around God’s Word drove them to service towards one another which only united them further.
The final aspect of interaction within the church was unity. Luke records in Acts 2:44 and 47 that, “all who believed were together and had all things in common…praising God and having favor with all people”. So we see that it was their common fellowship (God and His Word) and service that grew these people to be united in all things. This group was cohesive, composed, and concentrated. They were cohesive around God’s Word and caring for one another, thinking the same way (1 Corinthians 1:10). They were composed of the same oneness in body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God, and Father (Ephesians 4:4-6). They were concentrated on Christ’s example of humility (Philippians 2:3-8). The early church was united with one another because of their focus on God and love for one another. They fellowshipped together, served one another, and were unified because of the cross of Jesus Christ.
What about us? How are we, as the church today, interacting with one another? Are we fellowshipping, serving, and unified with one another? If not, with which area do we struggle most? What can you and I do this week to pursue fellowship, service, and unity with our local body of believers?
Stay tuned for part 5 of this series “The Church”. Up next: How it Worships. If you missed part 1: The Church:What is it?, part 2: The Church:Universal vs. Local, or part 3: The Church: Who is in the Church, read it here!