Does this description of the earliest followers of Jesus sound too good to be true?
It should, because it is too good to be true. The early Christian movements (yes, there were more than one sort of Christian even then) struggled with many challenges – political divisions, responding to folks in need in the community, fractious dynamics among themselves for a host of reasons. It should sound familiar to our ears, because the nature of the human condition continues to be fraught with such challenges. Then and now, a key question is what the followers in the way of Jesus can do together in the face of our fractious world.
This idealistic verse suggests essential pathways by which we might encourage one another and provide a community of support.
First, we can simply be together with one another as fellow members of the body of Christ in the world. That’s what the “apostles’ teaching and fellowship” is about – what we can teach and what we can learn from one another when we gather in fellowship. Coming together to share time with one another is a conscious choice, and in our increasingly cyber-based society, it is a healthy choice which supports each one of us.
And we are invited to engage in the “breaking of bread and the prayers,” recalling that when we gather for times of fellowship in the name of Christ, we are remembering Jesus’ gathering with his friends and the sharing of food together even as we pray for the needs of others and renew our commitment to live what we pray. The two are meant to go hand in hand.
These two aspects of community – learning in fellowship, and breaking bread prayerfully – are the core of our Sunday morning worship, and now they are at the core of our new mid-week opportunity for Christian food, fellowship and formation called Wednesdays Unplugged.
No, we cannot change the ways of the world nor have we “arrived” spiritually as the idealistic verse in the Acts appears to portray us. But we can join with one another across the generations in fellowship, nourishment, prayer and care for one another and for others. We are so much more together than we can be individually!