By Isam Itson III.
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus called his disciples to live as members of the Kingdom of God. He called them to obey God and love one another. He called them to consider themselves as servants to one another and to be generous and forgiving in relationship to one another. In the book of Acts, Luke is telling the story of how the early church began living as members of the kingdom of God through faith in the effectiveness of Christ’s death and the certainty of Christ’s resurrection and lordship.
This commitment to Christ expressed itself as a life defining commitment to one another experienced in mutual submission and practical service. Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. The word we translate devotion is better understood as continuing to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of doing so despite difficulty. In connection with people it means “to be loyal to someone,”. It’s root word is translated as being strong, courageous and enduring.
That’s why I speak of devotion as a life defining commitment. The members of the first church in Jerusalem were defined by their commitment to each other. They were persevering with strength, effort, and courage in response to the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.
What is the Fellowship?
Most people don’t use this word if they don’t go to church. And even then they don’t really know what it means, or how to explain it to others. Fellowship speaks of a deep consideration for one another. It is the heart of a family. To this day in more traditional societies, people spend the most time with their families. They find their fundamental identity, security and meaning within their family relationships. In this context a fellowship is an association involving close mutual relations and involvement. It’s root word speaks of the community of goods. Members of a fellowship are willing to forego their legal claims to personal ownership and to make themselves available to each other, even when the timing is inconvenient.
In a true fellowship we are meant to have a tangible experience of what Jesus experienced when his mother and brothers came calling in Luke chapter eight, verses nineteen and twenty (Luke 8:19-20):
Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”
21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
Ephesians 4:25 states that we are literally members of one another. Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.”
In Christ, we belong to each other. We are one people with God in Christ. Spiritually connected, materially invested, and personally accessible in each other’s lives as members of the family of God. This is the measure of our commitment to one another as members of the family of God, in Jesus Christ.
1. How do you understand devotion to another person?
2. Take a minute to consider who your neighbor is beyond your family members.