What is the best place for us to grow as disciples? – Part 4

Transformation is what we are after as Christians. At least it should be our goal. As Christians, we should want to grow not just in knowledge but in Christlikeness. Transformation doesn’t happen without teaching, it doesn’t happen without counsel, it doesn’t happen without prayer. As we learned last time, transformation doesn’t happen if we aren’t willing to be authentic with one another. Part of being authentic is depending on another person.

We are fiercely independent people, but if we want to grow in Christ, we can’t do it alone. We must depend on others to help us, which means transformation is based on interdependent relationships.

The first church lived in interdependent relationships with one another. 

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

(Acts 2:44-47)

What I want to draw your attention to in these verses is the word “together”.  It appears in verses 44 and 46.  While this word is translated as the same word in English, it’s actually two different words in the Greek. As you can guess, these two words mean two different things. 

In verse 44, the Greek is epi and it has to do with physical location. What that tells us is that these early Christians lived in the same place. In other words, they lived in close proximity to one another.

We are to live in close proximity to one another.

This wasn’t a small community. In verse 41, we learn that 3,000 people were initially saved at Peter’s preaching during Pentecost. Some, I presume, went back to their towns, but others stayed there in Jerusalem. Along with those who initially believed, we also learn in verse 47 that others were being added to the church each and everyday. So this was quite a large community of Christians living together with one another. I’m not exactly sure what that first community’s living quarters looked like. But what I do know is that they sold their possessions and moved so that they could live in close proximity to one another. 

Now, I don’t think this means that we all have to sell our houses, secure a plot of land somewhere, and build our own community. 

What I believe that we, as 21st century Christians, are to take from this is that: 

The church we are members of should be one that is local to us. 

In other words, it should be in the same community in which we live. We should be able to “run into” other church members while we are out and about. 

That means we shouldn’t be members of a church that is located outside of our community just because it is the popular church in the area or we like the speaker. We must live in proximity to those with whom we attend church. That makes sense if we are going to genuinely devote our lives to one another. That’s hard to do if we don’t ever see one another. Or if it is a burden or hassle to get together with one another. We must live in close proximity to one another, just as those in the early church did. In other words, the church we attend must be local. 

That idea that we must be a part of a local church gains even more traction when we consider the second “together” used in these verses.

It is found in verse 46. It is the Greek word homothumadon. Literally this word means to have the same fiery passion. It’s to be intensely unified with another like fans who cheer on their home team.

I know most of you like football. Even if you don’t, being from Dallas, you probably still cheer on the Cowboys. If you were to buy an overpriced ticket and watch the cowboys in person, you don’t watch half asleep. No, you engage, you cheer, you root for the Cowboys. If you were to take a step back and get a birds eye view of the stands, especially if the Cowboys are driving down the field for the winning touch down, you would see a fiery passion, a sense of unity among the fans. That fiery passion, that unity that draws you together is the idea that this word is trying to convey. This is why some translations translate it as “one accord.” 

But this word doesn’t just carry the idea of being in one accord with other spectators at a sporting event. It goes much deeper than that. It carries the idea that we are to be together, in one accord with one another, on a deep spiritual and emotional level. What this word tells us then is that 

We are to live interdependently. 

Living interdependently means that we are together in both proximity and in dependent community. 

Think about the example of the Redwoods a couple of posts ago. They exist in proximity to one another, as well as they depend on one another. They live in interdependent community.

That’s how the first church lived. That’s how we are to live as well. We are to live in interdependent community. 

Living in interdependent community not only means we live in proximity to one another. But interdependent community takes us much deeper than proximity. To a certain extent living in proximity is easy to attain. All it takes is for us to live in the same community and attend the same local church on a regular basis. Proximity is really nothing more than seeing one another, saying hey, shaking hands, sitting in the same Sunday School class and sanctuary together. Achieving proximity is not all that difficult. But it is the first and a necessary step to living in interdependent community. 

We can’t just stop at proximity, we have to keep going until we also are living lives that are depending on one another for growth and godliness. 

We need to get to a place where we believe we need each other in order to grow in Christ. That we need more than just Jesus, a Bible, and a quiet place. Don’t get me wrong, we need that.  We need our time in the Word and in prayer, but we also need one another. We have to recognize that or we will never live in interdependent community with one another. We will never see the value of asking someone else to pray for us. We will never see the value of asking another to hold us accountable. We will never see the value of getting together with one another in Bible Study. We will never see the value of serving one another by using our spiritual gifts. 

We must get to a place where we believe we need one another in order to grow in Christ and accomplish our mission as the Church. 

The first church saw that need, and that’s what drove them to sell everything, to move in with one another, and to gather together on a daily basis so that they might be transformed as they learn Christ together.

They saw their need for one another. Do we see that need? Are we willing to be open and transparent so that others can fulfill that need? If we want to be a growing vibrant church that is making disciples, we must see that need and we must allow others to meet that need.

Next Time

Developing interdependent relationships can be difficult. It cuts across the grain of who we have been shaped to be by our culture. Next time we are going to explore a few ways we can develop interdependent relationships next time.

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