Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Biblical Pattern for Genuine Fellowship

The Bible calls us to exhort, encourage and stir up one another to love and good work. There are more than fifty verses in the New Testament that instructs the believers to “one-another”. For instance, “Love one another”, “Forgive one another”, “Pray for one another” and so on. But the fact of the matter is that it's simply not possible for us to practice all these “one-anothering” inside a building with pews and pulpits once a week where we meet for about two hours or so with all of us facing to the pulpit where the actions take place. The solution for us is to emulate the healthy practice of the church in the book of Acts – to meet day by day from house to house. Yes, in verse 46 it does say that they met in the temple too. And that was because these believers initially still observed the hours of Jewish worship. For instance, in Acts 3:1 we read of Peter and John going up to the temple at the “ninth hour” – the hour of prayer (3 pm) for the Jews. Another possible or additional reason for them to meet at the temple (courtyard) was so they could listen to the apostles’ teachings corporately. Whatever the reason, we should note that their activities in the temple was different from that in their homes where they broke bread and ate food with joy and gladness of heart as they prayed and exhort and edified one another. So genuine fellowship and building up of each other among the believers in the first century Christians happened as a lifestyle in their everyday life. 

Churches meeting in big numbers in large halls or buildings should realize the need for a genuine fellowship among believers to foster love, unity and building each other up – something which isn’t possible in a crowd. The power of the early church should be recovered today by simply emulating them. Hence, big-sized churches should invest their efforts in restructuring their gatherings into smaller groups and give impetus to the meetings from house to house during week days. Having said so, it cannot be denied that churches (people not buildings) whether large of small tend to treat the larger meetings of Sundays as THE church and the smaller meetings that take place during the weekdays as less important ones and simply as activities categorized under some labels; usually groups that make efforts to make the larger meetings grand and successful. For instance, if one is qualified enough to take up a task in the smaller meetings then he or she would be gradually promoted to function in the larger meetings; everything geared up for the larger meetings on Sunday morning. Essentially, in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, the exact opposite was actually true. The church that met at homes in smaller numbers was a full-fledged genuine church complete and cohesive in every sense.

It's no doubt, large gatherings could enhance worship celebrations and preaching ministries, etc., but when it comes to koinonia fellowship and other activities where "one-anothering" of church life takes place, meeting in homes or such other informal places in smaller numbers is the most effective pattern of the New Testament for us to follow. 

Watchman Nee taught that, “Every church after God’s own heart bears the stamp of ‘one another’ on all its life and activity” (The Normal Christian Church Life, Indian Edition pg 47).

Let's practically seek to "one-another" effectively. It's how the Lord Jesus builds His church.

Please feel free to leave your comments. Thanks.

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