Together, Jesus’ followers stood looking into the sky. They all joined together in prayer. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. All the believers were together and had everything in common, and everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:44-47).
The early church gave us a wonderful example of being together. We need each other. We crave each other. We need to be together.
Life is all about relationships, but we sometimes take them for granted.People are looking to be connected to others, to be touched, to be embraced and to be recognized. And yet churches continue to reduce their fellowship times, do away with services and close their doors.
In fact, even as families, we are guilty of this neglect. We no longer eat together. We have our own schedules, and we are more connected to the Internet than we are to each other.We have forgotten how to be together.
We want to tell others about Christ, but we do not want to show them our love or be around them long enough to listen to their problems. We are too busy with our own problems and life.We have no time to be together in a community.Sometimes, our churches are so disconnected, we miss the opportunity to connect with others who are searching for truth and relationships, and that includes even people within the church body.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believers. It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us. Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.”
On the cross, Jesus reconciled us to God, and he also reconciled us to each other—both in the same act of salvation. Therefore, we have a new joy of being together. The Scripture once again says, “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” I think we are missing something when we choose not to come together. I know we are busy and life is full, but I also believe God created us to be together. He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
There are many people in our communities who are alone, left to their Facebook connections, left to their thoughts and addictions that take them further from the truth and further from others. Searching for community, searching to be connected, searching to be with someone—together.
Maybe it is time we add a Sunday night service back to our activities. Maybe we need that fellowship meal each week. Maybe we open our doors to more fellowship opportunities and connection groups. It will take work, but it will strengthen us as a community of believers. It will bring us and others together.
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René Maciel is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and president of Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio.