And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
—Acts 2:46-47 ESV
After church yesterday, a friend and I discussed the reality that for many people, their primary source of human contact is Facebook. In truth, the discussion was more of a lament for what has been lost.
All the small groups my friend and I were a part of are defunct.
I’ll let that sentence stand by itself because it serves as a testament to where we are in our society today. Social media have been a boon for connecting people who are distant, but it seems to have become detrimental to relationships within driving distance. We no longer meet face to face but instead enjoy the distancing mechanisms of technology. Our high-tech gizmoes help us keep up with others to the level we feel comfortable, and they give us the ability to walk away on our time schedule without feeling bad about disconnecting.
Our time schedule.
The early Church decided that meeting together every day mattered. We envy their closeness to the Holy Spirit. I wonder if there is a connection. Hmm.
The Acts passage above said that the number saved grew rapidly. You wouldn’t think that hanging out together would be evangelistic, but some synergistic sharing of Christ happened nonetheless.
The Acts passage notes that people thought positively about the Church because of its strong emphasis on connecting with others and being obviously friendly and social. How different from the PR the Church in America “enjoys” today.
Of course, there was also that “iron sharpens iron” thing. I guess the modern replacement is flaming each other in an online post’s comment thread. Less a sharpening and more a tempering, I guess. Temper, temper…
I think if you really pressed Christians today, few would be able to give a spiritual reasons why getting together daily is worthwhile. I think most see wisdom only in meeting once a week, twice at most. Wouldn’t want to overdo a good thing.
That reticence makes me wonder, though.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
—2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV
If God is love, and love is the highest expression of a complete Christian life—as noted in the Peter passage above—how is it we can barely stand to be together once a week? What does it say about our effectiveness and fruitfulness in Jesus if meeting together once a week is all we can muster?
Perhaps for all our talk of community and brotherly love and affection, we don’t really like each other all that much. If we truly do, wouldn’t getting together more often be a priority?
More and more Christians think we are in the last days of The Last Days. A verse that speaks to that:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
—Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
How is it then, if the Final Day is indeed drawing near, that we seem to be getting together less often rather than more? Does our reticence to meet actually reflect a willful disobedience? Have we all secretly fallen under the spell of the “powerful delusion” the Bible warns of, with our lack of meeting a physical expression of our mental dissonance?
Talk of mental health issues have dominated the Godblogosphere in the wake of the suicide of the son of noted pastor Rick Warren. I wonder how many mental health cases could be healed without medicine by the simple act of people fellowshipping more regularly.
Can we admit that something is wrong with the way we interact today?
A different friend confessed to me a couple years ago that he felt a greater kinship to the people with whom he plays board games. That affinity group bore each other’s burdens better and dispensed more grace than the Christian small groups he had been part of. What a sad indictment!
I can think of no greater distinguishing mark of the Church than the idea that no collection of individuals exhibits deeper love for its members. So, is this the case?
We wonder why people are increasingly eschewing Church. Perhaps our community and fellowship issues are ground zero for revival.