They devoted themselves to the apostles’
teaching and to fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
In a touching scene in Acts 20 as Paul says farewell to the Ephesian church, we are given a glimpse of the beauty of Christian fellowship.
When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. ACTS 20:36-38
That scene was played out a few weeks later in Tyre, where the ship unloaded its cargo.
We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way.
All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray. After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home. ACTS 21:4-6
What explains this bond we are told about that leaps off the page and into our hearts? In his book Life Together, Deitrich Bonhoeffer speaks of the difference that Christ makes in relationship.
I am a brother to another person through what Jesus Christ did for me and to me; the other person has become a brother to me through what Jesus Christ did for him.
The fact that we are brethren only through Jesus Christ is of immeasurable significance. Not only the other person who is earnest and devout, who comes to me seeking brotherhood, must I deal with in fellowship.
My brother is rather that other person who has been redeemed by Christ, delivered from his sin, and called to faith and eternal life.
Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us…and it remains so for all the future and to all eternity.
Come this Sunday and hear Kenny Clark open up the habit of fellowship for us, highlighting how grace will flow into our lives as we live out our faith in community, and not as isolated individuals.
“Fellowship is a place of grace,
where mistakes aren’t rubbed in but rubbed out.
Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice.”