The early church, while by no means perfect, paints a beautiful picture of what a community can be when its members focus on treating others according to the examples Jesus provided during His ministry on earth. Below are some of the key lessons we can learn about community from the book of Acts.
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them. Acts 6:2-3
Acts 6 records that the workload of caring for its members grew as the size of the church increased. The apostles recognized the need for the ministry and the daily food distribution to the widows. To ensure neither were neglected, they assigned specific members to complete the work.
Every community has roles that must be filled for it to function properly. By assessing the needs of the community, leaders can choose individuals to complete crucial tasks for which their talents and skills are ideally suited. This delegation of work ensures that responsibilities are completed in ways that benefit everyone involved without overwhelming any one individual.
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. Acts 10:34-35
The requirement to join the early church is the same one for joining the churches around Terre Haute today: belief in Christ. God has made it clear that this invitation extends to anyone who wishes to follow Him whether they are Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, man or woman (Galatians 3:28).
Diversity in a group can ensure that the community has a wide pool of talents and skills its members can use to help one another. The key to uniting the differences and preventing dissension is the sincere desire to love and serve as Jesus first did for us.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32 NIV
In His last hours with the disciples, Jesus prayed for the church to be brought to complete unity so that the world would know God had sent Him and that God loved both Jesus and believers (John 17:23).
This is echoed in of Jesus' final commands: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34
Our God is a loving God, and He calls His children to love in turn. Too often, though, it is those closest to us that we treat with indifference or judge the harshest. This callousness can quickly tear apart our churches and families.
The community of believers in Acts 2:46-47a shows us how to put Jesus' command into action so that we can see and pursue unity and fellowship:
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.