Read Acts 2:42-47.
The early disciples were continually devoting themselves to fellowship, “to the breaking of bread”. Verse 46 tells us that they had daily fellowship, “breaking bread house to house” and “taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart”. Fellowship is an intimate sharing of their life, struggles and walk in Christ. To have fellowship is to have something in common, to enjoy a shared relationship.
The Church is made up of people. The Greek word for Church, ecclesia, means “an assembly” or “gathering of people”. Baptism is a visible mark of being a member of the Church. It is also a visible sign of what it means to be a Christian. It signifies cleansing from sin (I Corinthians 6:11), dying and rising with Christ to a new life (Romans 6:3-5). After baptism the Holy Spirit brings to our lives refreshing (I Corinthians 12:13). The Bible mentions three types of gatherings: the large, the medium sized, and the small. These are practical levels at which we experience what the Church is: the celebration, congregation and cell.
A celebration is a large gathering of Christians. This may take place every Sunday in big churches or when a number of small churches come together for worship. In the Old Testament the people of God came together for special celebrations with a festive atmosphere at Passover or at the New Year. These large gatherings are not places where Christian friendships can easily develop.
A congregation is a medium-sized gathering. The size makes it possible to know most people and be known by most. It is a place where lasting Christian friendships can be made. It is also a place where the gifts and ministries of the Spirit can be exercised in an atmosphere of love and acceptance, where people are free to risk making mistakes. The congregation is a place where individuals can learn, for example, to give talks, lead worship, pray for the sick, develop the gift of prophecy, and pray out loud.
Cell groups consist of two to twelve people who gather to study the Bible and pray together. It is in these groups that the closest friendships in the Church are made. They are characterized by confidentiality (speaking openly without fear of gossip), intimacy (speaking about what really matters in our lives), and accountability (listening to and learning from one another).
When we receive Jesus Christ into our lives, we become children of God (John 1:12), this is what gives the Church its unity. We have God as our Father, Jesus Christ as our Savior and the Holy Spirit as our indweller. We all belong to one family. At every level we should seek unity in the small group, congregation and celebration; within our denomination and between denominations. This unity is more effectively achieved by Christians getting together to worship and work together. The nearer we come to Christ, the nearer we come together. Christian fellowship cuts across race, color, education, background and every other cultural barrier. Read Hebrews 10: 24-25. Often Christians lose their love for the Lord and their enthusiasm for their faith because they neglect fellowship.
F. A Holy Temple:
The only Church building the New Testament speaks about is a building made of people. Paul said “[Christians are ]being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). The presence of God was what Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden. But God promised that He would restore His presence. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God was poured out, the presence of God came to live among his people.
G. The Lord’s Supper:
The Lord’s Supper has many different names: Holy Communion, Eucharist or Breaking Bread. At this Holy Communion, we remember His sacrifice with thanksgiving and we partake of its benefits. As we receive Communion, we look back to the cross with thankfulness that He died for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and our guilt removed (Matthew 26: 26-28). Jesus could have left us some other way to remember His death, but He chose to leave us a meal. A meal is often a way in which we celebrate great occasions. One day in heaven we are going to celebrate for eternity at “the wedding supper” of Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:9). The bread and cup are a foretaste of this (Luke 22:16; I Corinthians 11:26).
The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus. Jesus promised to be with us by His Spirit after His death, and especially wherever Christians meet together: (Matthew 18:20). So as we receive Communion we look up to Jesus with expectancy.
Sharing the bread and cup with other believers symbolizes our unity in Christ. That is why we do not receive the bread and wine on our own. Eating and drinking together in this way should not only remind us of our unity, it should strengthen that unity as we look around at our brothers and sisters, for each of whom Christ died.
H. The Bride of Christ:
In the New Testament, Paul speaks about Christ being a husband to the Church. Christ’s relationship with the church presents a model for every human marriage,“just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5: 25-27). In this same way, Christ purifies us and makes us more whole and perfect for him. In the book of Revelation, John has a vision of the Church, “the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). One day we shall see the Church as Jesus intends it to be.
Our response to Christ’s love for us should be one of love for Him. The way we show our love for Him is by living in holiness and purity – being a bride fit for Him and fulfilling His purpose for us. Moreover, His purpose for His Church is that we “may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (I Peter 2:9). Declaring His praises involves both worship and witness. Our worship is the expression of our love and reverence for God with our whole beings – hearts, minds and bodies. This is the purpose for which we were made. Love God, love people. He has called us to tell others the Good News and draw them into His Church – to declare His wonderful deeds to the people around us. In both our worship and our witness, we need to find a contemporary and consistent expression of eternal truths.