Session 16: Biblical Community -- Do I "have to" go to church?


     This devotional and chapter when we go through Believe may seem similar to Belief #6 on the church. But Fellowship and Church is both a Belief and a Behavior. We need to not only know that the church is the bride of Christ. We need to practice fellowship. You may not "feel" like going to church, but if you really believe that Jesus loves the church, you are going to also put this love into practice by coming. 

     I love having my children with me. But almost as much as that, I love it when I hear my kids enjoy being around each other. And I especially love it when my kids tell me they have been to church, and are with their spiritual family. Now that they are adults, I can't make them go to church or want to hang around each other. But as a dad, I love it when they do and not because they "have to". 
    
      Someone said at church last week, "I don't want to leave this fellowship." That same night, another person said that they don't like being around people and always thought they didn't have to go to church to be a Christian. Today's devotional and Chapter 16 reminds us whether we are like the first person or the second, God gave us a belief and a behavior in having a Biblical Community.

The following devotional is from Zondervan to help us prepare for the 30 part series of key lessons on how to believe, behave and be a Biblical Christian.

KEY QUESTION: 

     Community is not a “nice-to-have” addition, but an essential experience for living a godly and healthy life. God intended for humans to have rich, life-giving relationships with each other; relationships energized and motivated by the actual presence of God among them. Adam and Eve experienced this perfect ideal in the garden. But their rejection of God’s vision for life together caused humankind to be escorted from the garden and out of community with God. This separation from God and the presence of sin in every human being’s nature is a perpetual challenge to creating strong community. But it is clear from God’s Word that people were not meant for separation and isolation. (See Ecclesiastes 4:8–12.)

    One of the marked differences between the church and the rest of society is the call to live for others. Throughout the New Testament, followers of Jesus were urged to look out for “one another.” When the early Christians did this in faith, it created an irresistible attraction for outsiders to belong to the family of God.

     All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who 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)

    I fellowship with Christians to accomplish God’s purposes in my life, in the lives of others and in the world.


What difference does this make in the way I live?
     If you were going to rescue a person who had fallen off a steep cliff, you would want to be tied to as many people up on the mountain as possible, supporting you and holding you as you attempt rescue. As we minister and reach out to those outside the community of faith, it is necessary to stay tethered together for optimum success, lest we also fall.

     There are days we desperately need a good hug to keep going, and other days we need a swift kick in the pants to get back to where we should be. Friends who love God, and love us for who we are, know exactly when and how to do the right thing for us. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon writes, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6 NKJV).

YOUR TURN

     Would you have wanted to be a member of the early church after Pentecost? Why or why not? (You’ll find some ideas in Acts 2:44-47.) Join the discussion today and use the hashtag #BelieveTheStory.

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