A few nights ago, I was part of a small gathering of people who attend our church. The group was a combo of marrieds and singles, old and young. Though most had been attending our medium-sized church for two years or more (some up to six years), they all came to the group because they weren’t feeling connected. Some expressed wanting Christian friends to do life with. Others shared big struggles they’d been through or were currently experiencing. Many talked about burnout, balancing the stresses of life and feeling inadequate.
I was struck by the fact that though our group of 12 was diverse — men in the business world, singles managing careers and relationships, fathers, stay-at-home-moms, parents of teens — none of us felt truly OK. We are all dealing with “stuff,” whether loneliness, work demands, disappointments, family drama or stress. And we are all in need of other believers to walk with through these struggles — to lend a godly perspective.
Everything in Common
I’m currently in a group Bible study that’s going through the book of Acts. We recently studied a passage found early in the book. After the Holy Spirit came upon believers in dramatic fashion at Pentecost, Luke says the following about early believers:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 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 (Acts 2:42-46).
Wow. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Every soul wasn’t stressed … but awed! The Christians shared a sense of togetherness and belonging. They ate together, attended “church” together, cared for one another. This sounds so different from much of my daily experience. I maintain a tight schedule, and I can get so wrapped up in my own world, my own problems. Instead of seeking interdependence (which my soul desperately needs), I hold on tightly to independence.
Three Questions for Greater Connection
The scripture above almost sounds odd and unattainable in our Western culture, doesn’t it? But I think there are some things we can learn from the early Christians. Here are three questions we should ask when we’re feeling disconnected from Christian community:
- Am I devoted to Christ-centered teaching and fellowship? When we hear the word “devoted” in our culture we may think about a relationship (“devoted husband”) or maybe a job. But Christian teaching and fellowship with other believers is something we should be making a priority in our lives. At our small group gathering, each person expressed a desire to follow God more closely and gain Christian friends.
- Am I helping those in need? Each year my church participates in an event called Turkey Tuesday, where we prepare 1,200 Thanksgiving meals for our community. It’s an awesome time of coming together to slather mayonnaise on turkeys and bless our community. But I don’t think this is what the passage in Acts is talking about. It’s talking about a day-in/day-out commitment to help our fellow Christians, sometimes sacrificially. Look at the people around you. What are some needs you could practically meet right now?
- Am I building camaraderie with other Christians? The Acts passage describes it as “breaking bread” (eating together) and “having favor with all people.” You guys, the Christians were the people others wanted to hang out with. And they weren’t exclusive! This wasn’t some early-church clique. All were invited in to experience the gospel. There was a magnetic draw to these counter-cultural individuals. Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
The kind of community and interdependence early Christians shared literally changed the world. And a few nights ago, when we cried over one another’s stories, laughed together and ate cookies, we glimpsed a bit of what “feeling connected” in the body of Christ really is. I hope that in the coming weeks, God will use us to build each other up to act more like His Son. We all need Jesus; we also need each other. And as we seek to live a little more like the early believers, I think we will gain the connection we crave.
Copyright 2019 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.