All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day 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. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. ~ Acts 2:44-47
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to chaperon my middle schooler’s field trip. The entire purpose was to build teamwork among their grade. This was genius! I watched them complete tasks together that they would have never been able to do on their own. Tasks like scaling a 10′ vertical wall and moving a 12′ pair of skis in tandem down a field and around a cone and back. They had to work together, blindfolded, to form a huge rope into a circle, and standing on a large tarp, turn it over without ever stepping off of it. Amazing!
These kids worked together as a team to accomplish their goals. Some of the tasks were accomplished, but others like “life raft” weren’t. There were too many feet to stand on the small wooden deck all at once. They celebrated their victories and talked through defeat. Lightheartedly, I said at one point, Ya’ll are going to either be one big happy family when this is done – or you’re not going to be speaking to each other.
These team-building skills will serve them well for years to come in the work place, at home and in school. What about at church?
The church-at-large can have a reputation for back-biting, kickin’ ya when you’re down, and may seem down right political at times. Unfortunately, the church has earned these labels sometimes.
What the world sees is pretty much right. We are just a group of people, no matter denomination, coming together to worship and serve one God through Jesus Christ. That’s who we are – people.
Talking with a dad on the field trip today, we chatted about watching children in middle school trying to figure things out – who they are and how they fit into their world and all of the peaks and valleys that come with this process. I replied, Regardless of what school they go to, kids are kids and things are going to be said. Because no matter the setting, they are still kids.
As for the church, people are people. We try to live like Christ, but often miss the mark. I think sometimes we forget we are on the same team. We are Christians. In the new heaven and earth, labels of denomination will not be found. Worship will be perfect – not contemporary, traditional or blended. It will simply be perfect. Heated debate over hot topics in the church will be old news. There will be peace. Contentment. Unity. Can you imagine it?
Should we have to wait for eternity to experience beautiful, Godlike unity? I think not. We live in a fallen, broken world and we are sinners saved by grace, but we can still aspire to the life Jesus called us to in His sermon on the mount affectionately called The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12…
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
More than John Lennon’s song, Imagine, or the famous poem, All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Jesus offered a different life than Lennon or kindergarten.
We can dress up our presentation to the world on the outside, but it’s the inside that motivates everything we do. It’s a matter of the heart. Our goal, our mission statement, as the church, in addition to The Great Commission , the two greatest commandments and the Ten Commandments, should be to live well and thoroughly the Beatitudes above.
We want to dedicate our lives to following our Rabbi’s steps in word and deed. People of all ages who take the time to pray for, and with, each other. They provide a community that will do whatever it takes to have each others’ back. I have seen believers give food from their hand, the shirt off their back, the last coin in the pocket to someone else who needed it more.
I’ve seen believers weep over the loss of someone else’s loved one, drive others to their appointments, bring meals in times of crisis or illness, restock homes after fire took everything, provide shelter for women and children in crisis, and congregate to look for a missing teen.
We are called to serve the world we live in, whether that be in our own homes, next door or across the world. We are called to do this for those who do not claim Jesus as their Savior. And, we are also called to do this for our own church body.
For me, I take my church body seriously. They are my family. I have a very small family of my own, and my church family is indeed my brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether I am trekking up a mountain in Kenya with fellow Kenyan believers, dancing with children in Ukraine at vacation Bible school, or hosting a BBQ right in my backyard for teens of our own congregation, I love being with, and serving, my family.
Last night, a dear friend was at our home when another friend arrived with a hot meal for our family due to recent medical issues. My sweet friend who delivered it stayed and chatted with me – as did the several friends who brought us meals before her. My sister-in-law, who lives far away, surprised us with a package that had restaurant gift cards inside with a note expressing she wishes were closer to help.
My friend who was at our home when dinner arrived said, Wow! Dinner! It’s nice to see people still do that for each other. It’s nice to see the church caring and reaching.
The meals have been a Godsend, but I’ll be honest and say that the warmth of someone’s touch and time mean even more. A smile, a conversation, and just their mere showing up is medicine for the body and soul. I felt my sister-in-law’s love even across the miles.
I love being part of the body of Christ, because when it is healthy and thriving, just like a human body, it works well. Cooperation, unity, and God’s love are essential to us, the bride of Christ, looking and feeling her best.
Recently, a friend at the grocery store who was checking out my groceries asked what I was making. I told her that I was trying to stock our freezer for my impending surgery. She said that when she had knee surgery some time back, she relied on her husband to be the temporary chef. From what she said, I guess he didn’t do such a great job. My heart broke for her. There was little to no help in a time of temporary, painful disability.
My hope is that people who have not tried, or given up on church life, would take a chance and give a Bible-believing church a go. No one promises perfect, but we try to love as God loves. There are such untapped resources of friendship and help to receive – and to give. It’s a beautiful circle of people coming together from all walks of life to serve God and others.
The church is a reminder that we, as believers, are not in this thing called life all by ourselves. There is strength and safety in numbers. There is also joy, fellowship, love and grace when Christ is the common thread.