They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2:42-45)
In the passage above, we have a description of a community that is very good for followers of Jesus. Because they want to learn more about Jesus, they devote themselves to the apostles’ teachings. Practicing this new faith requires courage because of threats from people who oppose it. So they strengthen one another by devoting themselves to fellowship with one another.
When I think of community, I think of family. That is because family members are for the most part able to live well together. That is the essence of community: Living well together. You might say that there is a difference between living with people who are related and people who are not. Yes, there is. That is why it is important to note that as the Body of Christ, we are related.
Our point of relation is our spiritual DNA. That is, each one of us is filled with the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit unites us as family. But even so, family members can become at odds with one another. That is why Paul says, “Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.” In saying this, Paul recognizes the fact that the unity of the Spirit is not held together by superglue. Discord can unbind us. So he challenges us to bind ourselves together with peace. Just because we disagree does not mean we have to fight with one another. If we remain at peace with one another, we can work through whatever comes our way.
I have led many small groups have witnessed persons reveal the most intimate details of their lives. For some reason, they have felt safe enough to be vulnerable in the presence of the other participants; persons with whom during worship they would not share their true feelings. In my most recent small group experience, the Thursday Morning Bible Study, the members commented to one another how the group felt like family. They feel supported and cared for by each other. You’re welcome to join us.