All who believed were together and had all things in common. – Acts 2:44
One of the greatest attractions of the early church in the eyes of the surrounding pagan world was its communal lifestyle. What was it that united such diverse people—Gentiles and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians and Scythians, slaves and free men (Colossians 3:11)? Jesus Christ. There was no real explanation for the commonality of these Christians’ lives together apart from Him.
From those days until now, the church has always been united in a unique fellowship marked by several commonalities. First is its common faith. The early church did not gather on the basis of ethnicity, education, interests, or anything else; instead, they brought all of their diverse lives under a shared faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Today, Communion remains an eloquent expression of this same unity; there is one loaf and one cup for us to partake from as one body. Jesus is the Bread of life, who sustains and unites us.
Second, we have a common family. When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we are welcomed into His family with other believers, having the same heavenly Father. This familial bond transcends that of even earthly families, because the family of faith is eternal. As such, we should look after the interests of our spiritual brothers and sisters. For us as believers not to love one another would be not only sad but contradictory: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21).
Third, by God’s grace, the true church also experiences common feeling. We see a lesser version of this at sporting events: each individual fan is different, but together they share a common feeling, conviction, and goal. Sometimes they are lifted up together and sometimes they are deflated together. Similarly, as members of one family, we share in each other’s joy, peace, pain, and sorrow. As Paul put it, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Paul’s metaphor in that chapter is of the church as a body: as believers we are different, and we have varying strengths and weaknesses, and so we make up a body that works better together than apart. My limitations and weaknesses are complemented by your strengths, and vice versa.
All families have their difficulties and struggles, and we are all sinners; so it is easy to forget the privilege of belonging to the people of God. When was the last time you thanked your Father for your church family? When was the last time you looked round on a Sunday at your brothers and sisters gathered together and allowed yourself to be buoyed by knowing that this is what you are, by grace, a part of?
Our world, just as in the days of the apostles, is full of division and loneliness. People are fragmented, fearful, and lost. But we, the united body of Christ, can offer to this world a deep fellowship and an eternal, hope-filled future. You have the opportunity to become the very hands and feet of your heavenly Father, reaching into people’s lives as you invite them into His family. Will you seize it?