Our daughter Angela is returning to the USA on Saturday after being with us for three months. I mentioned on Sunday that we had friends around for a braai. On Monday friends took us for a meal and tonight we had some folk around for a meal. For Angela it was goodbye to these beloved people … yet for all of us it was fellowship. We were all believers enjoying each other over a meal with the Lord in our midst. It was great. You cannot replace the enjoyment of believers’ fellowshipping around a meal and enjoying good Christian fun, laughter, discussion, sharing experiences and having godly relationships. We touched on this the other day, but notice the last few issues that arise out of this passage in Acts 16 dealing with Lydia and her household after their conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(7) The first is that Converts enjoyed fellowship.
Ac 16:15 she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.”
(a) The word “invited” is weak … it is better said as beseeched or pleaded. This is not mind blowing nor rocket science. As soon as one’s heart is truly touched by the Lord Jesus Christ, that heart wants to and needs to be in the midst of believers. Fellowship is automatic and needed because the translation from the world of darkness (Eph 2), irrespective of how moral one has been, into God’s Kingdom of Light is so radical, so different, so new, so exciting that you want to be with God’s people. This is normal and natural. There is an inner understanding from the Spirit of God that believers belong together. Even though the passage is talking about the use of one’s gifting with others, the point of “belonging and oneness” remains real and true.
Rom 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
See that? In Jesus Christ, meaning as participants in the Kingdom of God, we all belong to each other. Unity is called for because unity expresses belonging and oneness. The spiritual heart’s desire is to have godly fellowship with each other! Do you see the reason Lydia pleaded with the missionary team? Do you see why fellowship is vital? The fact that she invited us to her home and said come and stay at my house shows that the fellowship is not for a short chit chat but seemingly a lengthy stay over at Philippi. This would include sleeping over, food, refreshments, ablutions, etc. Maybe we need to be more sensitive towards our brothers and sisters who, like us, need such fellowship. It is a spiritual gift and anyone may practice it.
(b) The word “consider” is equally weak. Lydia said … If you consider me a believer in the Lord. The word ‘judge” or even “are convinced” is better. As Paul pleads his case for the Gospel, even if people think he and his team are “mad” or “out of their minds” he says
2 Cor 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
The Greek word “convinced” is the same as the Greek word “consider”, but here it gives a stronger meaning as does the word judge. You judge me as a Christian! Look at it like this … to bring the right meaning through … If you consider me a believer in the Lord … we could say … If you judged me as one convinced that Jesus is Messiah and the author of salvation … we would be spot on! So, Lydia was pleading for fellowship on the basis that she knew Paul judged her fully and genuinely converted to Jesus Christ! I really hope the Biblical and Christian concept of fellowship is getting through to you. So, are you a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? If you are, then your house, flat or room ought to be open to the Body of Christ. I don’t mean invite everyone and anyone, I mean inviting people like yourself in age, career, family, etc. and this fellowship does not need to be a three course meal or a braai. It could be a sandwich, pudding or just tea or coffee. The idea is interpersonal interaction between believers in Jesus’ presence. It’s getting to know each other, enjoy each other, encouraging each other in the faith, reading a Scripture and prayer. It does not need to be an extended period of time nor interfering with family time. Each believer is able to participate in fellowship and each believer is able to host fellowship.
(8) The second is that Converts express Gospel love. Many people do not understand that Gospel love is sacrificial. Sacrificial love includes giving up my time to spend with others. Look at what Lydia, a brand new convert who had been baptized does
Ac 16:15 And she persuaded us.
Do you recall those disciples on the Emmaus Road when suddenly a stranger was walking and talking with them? We know it was Jesus but they did not. Jesus spoke to them about Messiah and they were so intrigued they wanted to fellowship more with this man and invited him to stay the night where they would be staying.
Lk 24:28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them. The phrase “urged him strongly,” is the same Greek as “persuaded”. They were so adamant that Jesus spend the night with them that they urge Him to the point of persuading Him. This is the same force used with Lydia. There is such a passion to pursue Gospel love that you sacrifice yourself, your time, your food so that you may share it with other believers so that together you may enjoy each other around discussing the Gospel, eating food or over coffee for mutual benefit, displaying oneness, togetherness, unity, belonging and family with Jesus Christ in your midst. Many believers loose out developing such fellowship because they are too busy in the home, at work, in the garden or with sports. Your eternal family, after the Lord Jesus is to be the most important part of your life. It is true your employment yields finances to exist … but existence needs to be seen within the context of your home and church … with the Blood Washed children of God. Investing in such fellowship lasts eternally!
O Lord our Glorious God and Father, thank You for Lydia and her conversion testimony. Help us to learn from it. Amen.