“They devoted themselves to…the fellowship.” –Acts 2:42
When I attended seminary, I taught Bible classes in a church in the suburbs. Visiting a member's house was like seeing a mansion, in my eyes. One such home had a room near the front of the house the owner called, "The Sitting Room." The room was perfectly set up and dusted. The couches and chairs with accent lights and decorations on a perfectly placed coffee and end tables looked like something staged for a magazine photoshoot. The Sitting Room was very infrequently used. Only on special occasions were people allowed to visit the room and sit. No food or drinks were allowed, so as to not get the room dirty.
This is the draw for many churches. No drama allowed in church, no relationships too close or else our dirtiness will get exposed. We want a church we can simply visit, where everything is nice. Our sentimental ideas of church get ruined by dirty people. We desire to make and attend churches to visit; Jesus wants us to be devoted to one another and love one another.
When folks come over to my family’s house, I tell them, “Excuse the mess; this house is lived in.” That is exactly what our church must be like: lived in. Lived in by sinners saved by grace and on the journey to be more like Jesus. We must understand that the Lord commands us to be a part of a local church that sometimes frustrates us, sometimes disappoints us, and oftentimes requires us to be the initiator of conversations, reconciliation, and service.
When the early church devoted themselves to the fellowship, it was a devotion to biblical teaching, breaking of bread, and prayers. Our flesh desires church to be low maintenance, convincing ourselves that we should expect to leave church always feeling good about ourselves. Truth is, they are sinners…just like you and me. We are commanded to confess our sins to one another, teach and admonish one another, and love and serve one another. This requires closeness. This requires frustration. This requires a house that is lived in.
I am convinced that the best churches have buildings with faded carpet, tattered chairs, and worn Bibles. Evidences of a people devoted to one another and being close to one another as they draw near to God together. Let’s be a house of God, and let this house be a home that is lived in.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for letting our frustrations keep us at enmity with others. Help us by Your steadfast love to display Your love for Your people. Help us by Your Spirit to be a people devoted to the fellowship, not neglecting to meet regularly, and be a home that is lived in by Your mercies. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.