Made for Community, Part Four

June 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Faith at Work Devotional

“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:46-47

We were made for community, community that the Holy Spirit creates as a gift of grace through faith. As we focus on coming to know Jesus more, our hearts are shaped to care for the needs of others.

Here’s a final observation from Acts 2: spiritual community is powerful evangelism. Did you notice what the text says? While these early disciples were worshiping and praising the Lord, learning from the apostles, eating together, sharing together and loving one another others were watching. And they liked what they saw. And they wanted it in their own lives. The text says that these disciples had the goodwill of the people and the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Maybe you thought evangelism was a matter of going door to door and handing out tracts. Maybe you thought evangelism was standing on a street corner with a bullhorn yelling at people that they need to turn or burn. Maybe you thought evangelism was a matter of walking up to perfect strangers and asking, “If you die tonight, do you know if you’re going to heaven?” But today’s text offers us a different, and I’d dare say far more appealing, vision of evangelism.

Remember where we began? We live in a culture that increasingly fragmented. People who live next door to you, people who work with you, people who go to school with you are feeling increasingly isolated. And yet God created us for community. Our hearts yearn to know and be known, love and be loved, serve and be served. So here’s one way evangelism can look today: live well in spiritual community.

Let the Holy Spirit catalyze new life in you and between you. Devote yourselves to the Lord and allow that growing intimacy to create in you a passion to serve the needs of others. Laugh loud and often. Celebrate the joys and small victories of life. Support and encourage one another through the challenges. And let this world that is dying in isolation see it all.

Then invite them to be a part of it. Where two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name, empowered by the Spirit, they become the very thing this culture is dying for…something real, something that breathes life. It’s called spiritual community.

If you’ve ever read Paul’s letter to the Romans you’ll know that it’s wonderfully thick and chewy stuff. But far too often when we get to the last chapter, chapter 16, we just blow by it because it’s “nothing more” than Paul’s greetings. But in that chapter we see the power of partnership. Paul mentions over 25 names and
households…people who made up Paul’s spiritual community.

Listen to Paul’s heart in these words, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.”

Is there a list like that in your life, a list of people who are for you a spiritual community? It’s more than just the fact that we need it. The world needs to see it, too.

Bringing It Home
1. What is God calling you to do regarding your place in Christian community these days?
2. To whom can you reach out and invite to be a part of your Christian community?

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you once said that people would know that we belong to you by the way that we love one another. Help us to live together so well in Christian community that others might catch the fragrance of something their heart longs for…genuine community in you. Amen.

Jeff Marian
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN
www.princeofpeaceonline.org

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