When running KIDS Holiday Clubs many years ago we used to teach the children catchy songs with actions. One of the songs was “Heaven is a wonderful place”, based on Psalty and Ernie Rettino’s rendition. The lyrics go like this … “Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace, I want to see my Savior’s face. Heaven is a wonderful place … I want to go there.” Are you able to imagine for a minute what heaven will be like? The greatest plus of heaven in the occupant upon the Throne, The Triune God seated in all His majestic Glory … and reigning. When you have the time, take a writing pad and pen and read through the Book of Revelation jotting down all the places where there are songs and what these songs are about. You will be encouraged to note that each is directed towards God, praising Him for some aspect of salvation. Then look for the places where God will be with His people. Note the absolute bliss experienced by the saints in glory. Indeed … heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace … because once there you will see your Savior’s face! No sin, death, weeping or mourning. No fighting, trying to get my way, wanting to be in the limelight. No misery, anger, jealousy. Rightfully so, Peter under inspiration writes:
2 Pet 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Our Lord is the Truly Righteous One and His abode is the Righteous Place … hence … the Home of Righteousness. Heaven is a wonderful place! But right now we are here on earth. We live with the remains of our sinful nature although saved by grace. No Church is perfect, although the saints (saved sinners) gather and assemble for worship, edification, prayer, fellowship and a host of other spiritual activities. There our love for Jesus is expressed and demonstrated as we love each other, serving each other and seeking to serve the world with the gospel. However, no Church is perfect. Each one, from the smallest to the biggest, from the weakest to the strongest, from the doctrinally accurate to those who flounder, from those who are intentional to those playing Church … each name entered onto the membership roll reflections a sinner, saved by grace but still a sinner. Where heaven is a wonderful place, the Church on earth at best is nowhere near to what heaven is like. So God has given us the Bible and the Bible teaches us how to do Church. As imperfect as we are … we are to try to do Church God’s desired way and when we do we are God’s Church! As our passage in Acts 2 ends, it is one of those passages where God shows us how the basics of doing Church is done. Every true Church has believers as members and these are all part of the Kingdom reigned over by King Jesus and the exciting nature of it is:
Ac 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Ac 2:43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Yesterday we considered …
(a) Devoted to the apostle’s teaching … today we push forward …
(b) Devoted to the fellowship. Although “fellowship” is important and vital within the Body … the texts says “the fellowship”. This means “the Body” … ‘the Church” … “the Assembly”. The Fellowship is the spiritual home of each believing member. They belong together and to each other.
Rom 12:4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Just as a human body cannot exist without certain parts, so the Body of Christ cannot exist without believers. Each one is a part of, belonging to Jesus and to each other. Just as the elbow wants and needs the hand lower down the arm, so believers want each other and need each other. When a person becomes constipated there are all sorts of negative symptoms resulting in discomfort, possible pain and the lack of mobility or functionality. Sadly, when sin makes itself known within the Body of Christ, that Body is equally constipated and lacks functionality. This is the reason we need to be devoted to The Fellowship. When we are we will want to see it work and make every effort to get The Fellowship to reflect and experience the love, grace, mercy, kindness and forgiveness of God. Instead of jockeying for position and limelight, each member will seek to fulfil their God given role that He has equipped them for by Him distributing spiritual gifts to them for service and ministry.
Rom 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
Making Church work so that a little bit of heaven is experienced within the Body requires forgiving, being longsuffering, exercising patience and loving one another the way Jesus loved the Church! He died for The Fellowship. Some of the fruits expressed because of the indwelling Holy Spirit are
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Then Peter gets to the real issue of exercising the Fruits of the Spirit when he writes
1 Pet 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
The point is that as The Fellowship, being devoted to the fellowship, we need as far as possible to depict as much of heaven amongst the Body of Believers. Each one has a role to play. There cannot be anyone sitting on the sidelines, yet enjoying the luxury of what others contribute. In short … being devoted to The Fellowship will mean that I am as eager to grow up into Christian maturity as every other part of the Body is. Commitment to personal maturity as well as corporate maturity will see The Fellowship, the Group of Believers filled with awe (v43) and enjoying the favor of all the people (v47). Remember, the mandate for the apostles was to grow the Kingdom … to bring people to live under the reign of King Jesus. To do so one needs to be devoted to The Fellowship because your excitement will help outsiders see something special about God’s Kingdom.
Lord, help me to be devoted to The Fellowship of Jesus Christ. Amen.