All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper,) and to prayer. [Acts 2:42 (NLT)]
I watched the snowy egret at the beach and couldn’t quite decide if he was an exceptionally smart bird, just plain lazy, or a little of both. Egrets are excellent fishermen and will wade in the shallows stirring up the water with their feet to flush out delicacies like fish, frogs, and crayfish. Other times, they exhibit great patience as they stand nearly immobile for several minutes just waiting for their prey to come near enough for them to strike and catch dinner.
This egret, however, wasn’t wading in the water; he was cruising the beach and visiting various fishermen. Cast netting for bait, the anglers were hurling their nets into the surf. While pulling in the bait-filled nets and dumping the contents in a bucket, a few of the minnows always fall out and that’s what this bird was awaiting. Apparently, he prefers carry-out to hunting and may even prefer shop-lifting if he snatches minnows out of the buckets. Clearly, he wants others to do the work while he reaps the benefits. I look at our churches and think we have a lot of people who are like that egret—people who are willing to let the other guys do most or even all of the work.
The early church devoted itself to learning from the Apostles, eating together, prayers, and fellowship. They didn’t just have fellowship, they dedicated themselves to it. Today, many church-goers would define Christian fellowship as having coffee with other parishioners before or after church. Fellowship in the first century, however, meant much more than that and continues to mean more today. Christian fellowship is concern and commitment to one another; it is caring for and sharing with one another. Moreover, we need to share more than our beliefs, activities, interests, communion or coffee. For true Christian fellowship, we need to share our responsibilities and work, especially if we are to fulfill the call to care for one another.
The volunteers at our church were recently recognized while the rest of the congregation stood and gave them a round of applause. Remembering that we don’t just attend a church but are part of one, rather than giving our church volunteers a hand, we need to think about giving them both of our hands, sharing in their responsibilities, and enjoying true Christian fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ!