I pray that my email finds you doing well and feeling blessed. I enjoyed seeing you on Sunday and am anticipating our gathering this evening.
While technology has enabled our ability to connect without being in person, nothing can truly replace being together.
We can have virtual friends through social networks and people call that community. But, sharing of ideas and vicarious experiences should never truly replace the closeness that comes when you engage directly with other people, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Acts 2:41-44 tells us,
"So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common;"
We know that as believers in Christ, baptized believers specifically, baptism, full immersion, is how we identify ourselves as being Baptists. But, identification is not the same as relationship. This response to the first sermon preached by Peter started something. People joined what came to be known as the church. But, the idea was never to simply add people to an attendance sheet.
No, the focus was on the people becoming a part of a movement. They called the movement "The Way".
In being a part of The Way, they had to be taught how to live as Christ followers and it was not like online learning where you sit at home or wherever you can connect to the internet and are taught. No. They were physically present.
In being physically present, the Gospel was preached but you can be sure that there were questions asked, comments made, and understanding increased.
They also shared meals together which likely led to other conversations about the Gospel message, what it meant to be a Christ follower, and, as we all tend to do, discussions about everyday life.
And, it all occurred when they were together.
The believers were together and they shared in each others' lives because they were a unique community that God had called into being. By being together, they could also learn how to help one another which increased the strength of their relationships.
As it was with the start of the church, so it is now.
Each local church is a unique community, part of a larger whole for sure; but, each local church is unique.
That uniqueness is strengthened by the community coming together. Vice versa, the community is weakened when members stray and stay away.
May we remember that in how we choose to honor our God. It is not about you sometimes being able to read the bible and pray all by yourself. There is absolutely a necessity for that.
But, what you joined is bigger than you and your own private prayer closet. You are a member of the Body of Christ and you have a church family.
Be with your church family and be careful in neglecting it for other worldly affairs. Some who you give your time to are just going to be a part of your life for a short while. Your church family is striving to be with you and for you into eternity. Choose wisely how you invest your time.
As a fellow investor in eternal things, I look forward to seeing you tonight at HOPE Wednesday. The world is calling. The church family is calling you too. Come be with us if you can.
And, remember, God loves you and I love you too!