A cruel experiment was supposedly done in the 13th century by King Frederick II of Sicily. In his fascination to learn the original language spoken by Adam and Eve, he gave a group of babies to the care of nurses. The nurses were given very strict instructions: they could feed, bathe, and change the babies as necessary, but could never speak or interact with them in any other way. Sadly, the experiment ended in the deaths of all the babies. Historians, psychologists, and the like could only speculate the deaths resulted from the lack of basic interaction, affection, and any form of communication. Whether or not this story is factual remains to be proven; however, the moral we draw out from this story IS true: human beings suffer when we are deprived of one of the most basic necessities that God created us with – COMMUNITY.
Here’s a question: How do you use the word “church”? When you put it into a sentence, are you referring to a place? A brand? A reputation? Is it something you do? I’m not going to say you’re wrong (maybe I just did), but from a Biblical standpoint the church is you, but not just you alone. Church is only church when you are with others who are also “called out” of sin, that is the very definition of the word church, those who are “called out”. With this understanding, you cannot be isolated and separated from other Christians. You cannot only come to a worship service on the weekends, say “hi”, leave, and think you’re part of the church. The REAL thought behind that is, “I WENT to church today” not “I AM part of the church.” This begs the question: How do I become part of the church then?
Acts 2:42-47 tells us all we need to know about the first church. I’m going to focus on verses 44-46:
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.
In this small section we see one key element. The church wasn’t just a group of people doing stuff together. The people knew each other, they shared their lives with each other, they cared for each other regularly. How do I know that? Would you sell your possessions and give them all equally to a stranger or someone you didn’t truly trust? Would you even lend money to someone you don’t really know? Unless you have ulterior motives, then absolutely not, right? That’s what defined the church. They were a people growing together in their discovery of God.
Let this be an invitation to you. No community is perfect, but we’re not after perfection, nor is God. What we’re after is strengthening our pursuit of God together as a church. At Every Nation NYC, we do that multiple ways, one of them being our Connect Groups. We asked some of our leaders to describe their Connect Group experiences in one word. These are some thoughts that were shared:
These responses are real! Life comes with hardship and conflict, and it’s in those moments where bonds are formed, especially as God makes himself known to everyone in the group. Please don’t go another season apart from the body of Christ. Sign up for one of our Connect Groups here.
You can also reach out directly to me if you have any questions or thoughts at jeff[at]ennyc.org. I’d love to meet up and talk more!