By: Donna J. Kazenske
The Early Church was birthed in power on the day of Pentecost. Those who had waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit were blessed by a powerful visitation from the Lord. All who were present in the Upper Room were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit of God gave them utterance.
The Early Church came out of the Upper Room filled with newness of life and power. They immediately began to preach the Gospel to those around them. They were filled to overflowing and began to share what the Lord had done for them on this wonderful day. There was great joy among the 120 faithful believers who had the patience and desire to wait upon the Lord for the fulfillment of His promise to them.
How many of us are willing to wait for the fulfillment of the promises that God has given to us? How many of us are willing to pray and seek God’s face until the fulfillment comes?
The Early Church was a church “on fire” for God. We often speak about our churches as being “on fire,” but the Early Church was completely consumed by God. They were “doing” what the Lord had commissioned them to do. They were casting out devils, healing those who needed to be healed, preaching the Gospel everywhere they went, and praying for believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. What was the result of their radical lifestyles? They saw the power of God do everything they asked Him to do.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a powerful message to the multitudes and three thousand souls were added to the church. Three thousand souls were saved in one preaching engagement! Can you imagine baptizing three thousand people? What a celebration!
Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The phrase “continued steadfastly” means to be devoted or constant to one; to continue all the time in a place; to persevere and not faint; to show one’s self courageous; to be in constant readiness for one; wait constantly.
Devote means to give or apply one’s time, attention and self entirely to a particular activity, pursuit, cause or person.
How many of us are truly devoted to the Lord and to those in the body of Christ? Are we really willing to give our time to a particular person or activity besides football and Dairy Queen?
There is a key word in the above verse that I would like to center in on for a moment. This word is “fellowship.” The Greek is “koinonia.” Koinonia means association, community, communion, joint participation, intimacy, contribution.
How many of us go to church on Sunday morning, take a seat in the back row, repeat a short prayer, sing a few songs, put a dollar in the offering bucket, listen to a sermon and leave before anyone can come and shake our hand or hug our neck? What is wrong with this picture? True Fellowship (koinonia) with other believers is missing.
Fellowship is so much more than just going to church on Sunday Morning or Sunday Night. It’s more than chatting over a meal or visiting with a friend in the lobby of the church for five minutes. Fellowship involves relationship. Fellowship involves the people of God getting out of their comfort zones and making an effort to pay attention to someone other than themselves. It means reaching out a helping hand to someone in need. It means taking the time to shake a hand or hug someone’s neck. It means taking a few moments to find out how the person sitting next to you is really doing.
Fellowship is caring for those in the body of Christ with genuine love. Love is not just a feeling; it’s an attitude of heart. The Scriptures command us to love one another. Love makes time for people and responds to their needs. When a widow needs something fixed at her home, the men in the body of Christ should rise up and help the woman in need. If their wives are jealous, the men should take their wives with them and show the love of Jesus through action. Love responds when a neighbor has no way to get to the store to get groceries. Love responds when it sees a little old lady having a hard time carrying groceries across the street. Love responds to the little kid across the street that doesn’t have a daddy.
Remember when Jesus chided Martha for being too busy cooking when she should have been sitting at His feet with Mary? I believe many of us are guilty of being too busy. We even get too busy doing good things. We get overwhelmed by the work of the ministry and hardly have two minutes to minister to our own staff. What is ministry all about? It’s about people!
I believe task oriented people have more of a problem with this sort of thing because their mind always seems to be focused on finishing what they have started. Their mind is always going a thousand different directions and when you are talking to them, you don’t know if they are really listening or not.
How do I know about this sort of thing? Because I’m a task oriented individual. Give me a task to do and I’ll get it done even if I have to stay up all night to do it! If you come to my office and interrupt me when I’m in the middle of a tense project, it might take me ten to fifteen minutes before I can bring myself into the conversation that I’m supposed to be having with you.
Some of us really need to pray and ask the Lord to help us bring balance into our lives. Whether we are task oriented or people oriented, there needs to be a balance. If we spend all day chatting with our friends, we will not be able to complete the responsibilities given to us by our employers. If we are getting paid to do a job, we need to get the job done efficiently or we will probably be out job hunting in a day or two.
So what is fellowship? Fellowship is releasing the love of God that’s on the inside of us to others. It’s putting others first and encouraging them in any way that we possibly can. It’s giving someone who has no money a ten dollar bill so they can fill up their gas tank. It’s meeting the needs of those around us if we have the means to do so.
If we will allow God’s love to be manifested in our lives and released into the lives of others, people will be drawn to come to our churches. They will be drawn to spend time with us. They will be drawn to hear and respond to the Gospel message. Isn’t that what Christianity is all about?