I’ve heard this prayed my whole life: “Be with us as we go our separate ways.” I fully appreciate what is meant, but I lament a trend I’ve seen for many years. Too often, we go our separate ways until the “next appointed time.” We have no contact with one another. Instead, the bulk or totality of our contact is with worldly people with ungodly philosophies. While we need to be among the world to exert salt and light, perhaps we have neglected something else that first century Christians took full advantage of. Luke describes it this way, saying, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46). As he had observed in verse 42, they were continually devoting themselves to fellowship. This created a close knit community that could not only weather some huge storms of opposition, but it helped them produce an attractive environment that thousands of people wanted to be a part of. Perhaps we discount or even overlook what a vital part of church growth that fellowship and time together had on the early church.
Today, we have our civic activities, our kids’ full slate of responsibilities, our work and overtime, our personal entertainment regimen, and similar time-consuming matters that are not inherently wrong but that can help create a dramatic separation from our spiritual family during the week. Where is the time allotment for getting together with other Christians during the week? Have we relegated or resigned ourselves to Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night? Are we losing the art of hospitality, of having spiritual family over to deepen Christian relationships?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to speak of each other and say that our hearts have “been knit together in love” (Col. 2:2)? In that same context of the church’s beginning mentioned earlier, Luke adds, “All those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (2:44). What will happen to the local church that becomes very intentional about this, not just with an exclusive few but in a way that includes new Christians, potential Christians, the otherwise disconnected, and those of different as well as similar demographics? Certainly, it requires time, effort, and even some expense, but what will it yield? A feeling of connection in the place of separation.