The book of Acts describes the ancient Church as devoting herself constantly to the Apostles’ teachings, communion, and prayer. But never forget the fourth foundational component of the Church which is koinonia. The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of those who, having first been embraced by His love, now love Him and love His Church. The life of faith is never that of a hermit, but as one who now belongs to a family where profound love is found and we are nurtured, encouraged, and enjoy loving accountability.
In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes:
“The table fellowship of Christians implies obligation. It is our daily bread that we eat, not my own. We share our bread. Thus we are firmly bound to one another not only in the Spirit but in our whole physical being. The one bread that is given to our fellowship links us together in a firm covenant.”
Think about those incredible words: “…bound to one another not only in the Spirit but in our whole physical being.” A congregation cannot be truly healthy unless it lives life together on a daily basis. We are to gather together not only for worship on Sunday but: to meet and eat in one another’s homes, to gather in bible study, and to gather for service. Luke, in the Book of Acts, describes a Church where there were no unmet needs, where people of every ethnic and socio-economic background—yes, even slaves and slave owners—found unity as one unique loving family.
As I think of a strong loving family, I look not at the absence of occasional conflict. Those who love one another often disagree but never allow disagreement to interfere with that love. People who love one another face times of discouragement but never face it alone. People who love one another never isolate themselves in bad times or good. We carry one another’s burdens and share in one another’s joys. A congregation that lives life together attend worship each week not just because of our obligation, but with genuine anticipation.
A loving family cries and laughs. It experiences good times and bad. A family makes every individual stronger. And together we find strength which evil can never conquer. And “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18, CSB)