By, Isam Itson III
“They also devoted themselves to the breaking of bread.” – from Acts 2:42.
I was at the grocery store during the time I was writing this article when I saw a young couple with their newborn baby. All of us in the checkout line were celebrating this visibly exhausted couple and their baby, and encouraging them in this new phase in their life. That encounter reminded me of how our lives and the lives of our friends and family changed for Lori and I when our son was born nearly twenty years ago.
Literally overnight all of our time, energy, attention, and resources revolved around his well being. Gradually we learned how he is the same as us and how he is different from us. Our lifestyle changed to incorporate his needs, personality, and disposition. Suddenly nurturing a relationship with us meant our friends and family had to consider our son. Our love for him and his love for us continues to enrich our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
This is the way that the people in the early church made room for each other in one another’s lives. They embraced each other as newborn members of the family. Their lives revolved around each other’s well being and fulfillment in pursuit of God’s purpose in the world. They committed to helping each other honor God’s love for the people in their surrounding community.
The phrase we translate as breaking of bread simply refers to the common meal. The head of the household gave the signal to begin the meal by breaking the bread. The fact that they committed themselves to this purposefully and sacrificially, imparts a deeper meaning than simply having dinner in each other’s homes. They were embracing each other as members of the family.
This reminds us that we are dependent upon each other and intimately intertwined with one another. This is not just spiritually meaningful. It is also materially, relationally and socially meaningful. We are designed by God to respect each other, and open our lives to each other. A real sharing of our time, space, and substance. We are given by God to each other, to help one another in pursuit of the fulfillment of our common mission in Jesus Christ. And like a new addition to the family our lives will necessarily change in ways we could not possibly have imagined before their arrival.
When we embrace each other this way we become closer and more open with one another. You become acquainted with my mess and I become acquainted with yours. Family knows each other and embraces each other anyway, and we are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, members of the fellowship of the body of Jesus Christ. This is why it is so necessary to nurture relationships with one another in the church as a lifestyle. Close familial relationship is not an option for the people of God. This is what we were made for, what we were saved for, and what we are most hungry for as we pursue the works of God in this world together.
1. How close am I to the members of my local church?
2. How am I purposefully spending my time and energy on members of my local congregation, as a way of life?
3. How am I regularly given to the work of Christ in my surrounding community, in mutual submission to the other people and the authorities Christ has placed in my church?