I have a favorite skillet. I inherited it from a family friend when I moved out on my own. It’s nonstick and is the perfect size for making pancakes, sautéing vegetables, or scrambling eggs (three of my favorite food-related activities). Let’s call this skillet "Ralph."
I have another skillet that’s pretty useful…we’ll it "George." George is a cast-iron skillet that’s older than I am. George has seen it all — camping trips, corn bread, bacon grease.
If I’m using a skillet, you can bet it’s Ralph or George. There’s this one other skillet though…it’s a giant. We’ll call it "Bert."
Bert has lived on the top shelf of my kitchen since I moved in 18 months ago. I never used Bert because I never needed a big skillet. But then, I made dinner for a friend. I chopped some veggies and began tossing them into George with some hot oil…then I stopped. Suddenly the skillet seemed insufficient. It wasn’t going to hold all of the other chopped veggies…and the broth…and the lentils. I had a problem! My eyes darted nervously around my kitchen…until I remembered that Bert was hovering right above my head.
While Ralph and George are great skillets, they weren’t adequate. They limited my ability to “do life” with people. They said, “Dinner for one” instead of “Dinner with friends.” I pulled Bert down off the shelf, wiped it out, and let it join the fun. Bert (if a skillet could have thoughts and feelings) wanted me to share joy and experiences with my friends…it wanted us to “do life” together.
God and Bert have that in common. Just like Bert, God wants us to experience “doing life” with those around us.
If you’re in a church that has small groups/Bible studies/home groups/house churches…whatever label they have, hopefully you’ve pursued Christian community through those avenues. Maybe you’re on a college campus that offers a weekly Bible study and you’ve connected with some solid Christians through that resource. But maybe, you’ve done all of that and you still feel like something is missing. You go to the Bible study and chat with Christian friends, but then you go home and pull down a skillet like Ralph or George.
How do you carry that Christian spirit home with you? Let's look to the early church.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…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. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. -Acts 2:42-47
The whole description of this young Christian community should inspire modern Christian communities. But at the moment, I really want to focus on the description in verse two. They (meaning the believers) were devoted to three things:
- Apostles’ teaching and fellowship
- Breaking of bread
If you are already involved in some sort of church community/Bible study, you’ve probably covered the first item on this list. But how often do you reach out to those community members outside of the Sunday morning worship service and Tuesday night small group? What would it look like to share a meal with those people? What would it look like if you devoted yourself to praying over one another’s lives on a regular basis?
I’ll be honest: this isn’t easy for me. I would much rather show up on Sunday morning and slip out unnoticed than think about inviting someone over for dinner. And for the longest time, that’s what I did. But God wants more for us. He wants us to step outside of our comfort zone and do life with people. That means offering to give them a ride to the airport, taking them a loaf of bread just because, or asking how you can pray for them (and then actually praying for them).
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. -1 Peter 4:8-10
So as you go about this week, think about how God might be calling you to become more deeply involved in a Christian community. Maybe you need to offer to pray for someone sitting next to you at church. Or maybe you should to invite someone over to your apartment/dorm/house for coffee and Girl Scout cookies.
Think about how God might be calling you into the community and then pursue it with love.
What are some of the ways you are pursuing community? Share with us in the comments below - you never know who you'll inspire!
// image by yelena bosovik