Always LovedEven before he made the world, God loved us and chose us.
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Live in harmony with each other (Romans 12:16).
Respondents to a recent Barna Group survey listed the following as key elements of their church life: connecting with God, experiencing transformation, gaining new insights, and feeling cared for. All of those things happen as individual believers come together and use their gifts to bless and edify one another. So often the idea of a “personal relationship with God” is emphasized in our experience with Jesus. While personal salvation is vital, the New Testament reveals that believers in Jesus are to be linked together within a faith community.
After the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the early church experienced true community in Christ. As they met together, they received teaching from the apostles—instruction from God’s Word that helped them to grow and mature spiritually (v.42; 2 Timothy 3:16). They also knew fellowship or koinonia—a close relationship experienced together (Acts 2:42). This loving relationship included sharing whatever they could with their brothers and sisters in Jesus (vv.44-45).
As they worshiped together and enjoyed the Lord’s Supper (breaking bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Jesus—Luke 22:14), something special happened: they tasted joy (Acts 2:46). This was the joy of selfless giving and living in Jesus—something that could not be conjured up on their own. And as they were “praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people . . . each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved” (v.47). What happened to those new believers? You guessed it; they became a part of the new community of faith.
If you’re not attending a local church, perhaps due to negative experiences in the past, it’s time to reconsider your decision. God intended for us to give and grow within a community of believers.
Read 1 Peter 1:9 to see what believers in Jesus should offer to one another.
If you attend a local church, how well are you doing in living out the early church’s example? Why is it so important for us to be part of a Christ-centered faith community?
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