“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” – Psalm 122:1
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” – Acts 4:32
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
Every night, like clockwork, my six-year old Joey asks me to tell him stories. And inevitably, the star of most of these stories is my rambunctious and wildly-unpredictable, younger brother, known to most of his fan base as “Uncle Danny”.
And though many of Uncle Danny’s youthful exploits were not sanctioned by the church (he was essentially the Baptist version of Dennis the Menace), it was the setting of many of our more memorable moments and the backdrop for countless stories from our childhood. We grew up going to church, getting ready for church, driving to and from church, serving at church, and spending time with church people. For as long as I can remember, church has been as familiar to me as my own living room.
In Acts 2, church became a living room to the newest members of the family of God. Following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), the disciples had retreated to the safety of the upper room to await further instructions. And then it happened. The Day of Pentecost came and brought with it the fulfillment of the promised Holy Spirit – the Comforter, the One Who would finally put together all the pieces that Jesus had imparted to His disciples throughout His earthly ministry (John 14:16-18, 15:26-27, 16:12-14).
With the Spirit’s power, Peter begins to preach, and the church starts to grow exponentially (Acts 2:14, 37-41). But here’s the incredible thing – they don’t start a building project. They don’t start doling out titles, or forging an empire, or making a name for themselves. They start building a family (Verses 42, 44-46).
The early church took care of its own. They ate together. They prayed together. They shared their burdens and their blessings. They put each other first, gave up their ranks and their riches, and built a Christ-centered community that left no believer behind. Many (like Barnabas) sold their personal land and goods and contributed everything to the needs of their fellow saints. They basically stopped keeping track of who owned what, understanding that everything they had belonged to God anyway (Acts 4:32-37).
We wince at the hippie-commune connotations of that kind of life. We bristle at the idea of sharing our stuff that we have worked so hard for – especially with those whose contributions are questionable. But there is incomparable blessing in living so closely to the heart of Christ (Matthew 25:37-40, Galatians 6:2, 10, Ephesians 3:14-19, Colossians 3:1-17). Christ shared His inheritance with us. He gave His life to do so (Romans 8:14-17, I Timothy 1:15, I Peter 1:3-4, I John 3:1). Knowing that, how can we deny any of our brothers and sisters in Christ the same love, forgiveness, mercy, and ultimately, the honor that He has bestowed on us?
Let me give you a quick Thanksgiving reality check. Everything you have is His. It is only on loan to you. It is yours by the virtue of His permissive will and His abundant grace. Share, and count it a blessing to do so (Romans 10:12-13, Hebrews 10:24-25).
Everything else comes and goes, but the family of God has been as constant in my life as the family I was born into. We have grown together, weathered storms, and loved each other through good times and bad. And like nothing else, it has repeatedly pointed me to the God that I so desperately need and has forever nudged me a little more in His direction.
I have always known that church was my second home, but I am thankful to say that, more and more, it is a glimpse of my future home (Psalm 133).
Some take offense to being identified as “sheep”, but not this little lamb (Isaiah 53:6, John 10:11, 21:17). I am grateful for the safety of flock and fold. I thank God for my church family. I am grateful for the meals we share, but I am more grateful for the miles that we have shared on the road of life.
This Thanksgiving, praise God for His church. Praise God with His church. Make church your living room. Find your place in the family of God, and never doubt that you belong there.
Love on your church family. Pray for your church family. And if you don’t have a church family, find one. God wants to use you and bless you in a Christ-centered community.