17th century sage John Donne once wrote: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee!”
(John 17:23 NIV) I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
(John 17:26 NIV) I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
These verses underscore the fact that love and unity should characterize our involvement with each other. In this lesson we want to get a better grip on our involvement with other Christians.
Involvement in God’s Family-A Historical Glance. Throughout history, no church has better modeled involvement than the church in Acts 2. At the end of Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost, three thousand Jews were saved. They had no church building, no Bible, no seasoned pastor, no traditions or forms of church government. Yet this new congregation knew more about how a church should function than we do today with two thousand years of experience and libraries full of church history notes.
And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42). Initially drawn together by the thread of their common commitment to Christ, the early church members became a tightly knit group. The Greek term for fellowship is koinonia, the root of which means “common.”
And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And 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, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
First, fellowship was entered into by all. Not one of them had an island mentality. They shared everything they had: property, possessions, food, even their own lives. Second, this sharing was sincere, not contrived or coerced.
Their fellowship sparkled with authenticity. The early church expressed its involvement in two ways. The people shared with someone: things like money, time, food, encouragement, reproof, confession. And they shared in something: a situation, an experience, a failure, an emotion. In all their times of need, they were never alone.
As you look back at the involvement of the believers in Acts 2, how do we compare? Do we build bridges that link our life with others, or do we hermit ourselves away on some isolated island! The only cure for loneliness is to build relational bridges to span the seas that separate you.
In two other New Testament passages, Paul vividly describes the involvement in Acts 2 by answering the questions: Why should we be involved with others? Why should we open up our lives? Why take the risk?
- God Commands It — Romans 12:9-16.
- The Body Needs It — 1 Corinthians 12:20-27.