Acts 2: 42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
We live in a world in which people are becoming increasingly isolated and individualistic. Advances in transport make us more mobile and transient than ever. People are choosing to get married later in life and the divorce rate is increasing. Therefore, there’s more people living alone than ever before. Community in the traditional sense doesn’t really exist anymore. It was once the case that you knew everyone who lived on your street, you popped in and out of each others’ houses. Now many of us might just about know the names of the people who live right next door to us, but that’s about it.
Then there's advances in technology and communication. We spend more time alone in front of computers rather than in face to face contact with people. We don’t have real friends, we have Facebook friends. We don’t talk, we tweat. We walk around with our earphones in to block out the world around us.
All of this contributes to people becoming more and more lonely and disconnected from each other. Not long ago one national newspaper carried this headline: Country in the grip of an ‘epidemic of loneliness’. One in ten people admitted to feeling lonely often. And 50% said they felt lonely some of the time.
What did God say right back in the beginning to Adam?: ‘It is not good for a man to be alone.’ That’s not just a verse about marriage – it’s a verse about how we as human beings are made. God created us to connect with other people, we were made for meaningful relationships, we long for friendships and intimacy - and when we don’t have these, there is something so very important missing from our lives. We can have everything in life that money can buy, but if we don’t have deep connections and strong relationships our lives will feel void and empty.
The church needs to be a place where we develop real, authentic community. Where we meet together, take our masks off and accept each other as we are - the good, the bad and the ugly. Where relationships go beyond the superficial surface level. When people walk into church they should feel that they belong, even if they don’t believe yet what we believe or don’t behave like we would like them to behave.
The church is about people, it's about community, it's about the extended family of God welcoming the outsider, the misfit, the awkward and the lonely, as well as the hipster, gifted, attractive and socially confident. It's a visual witness to the world that Jesus transcends all walls, barriers and social divisions. The ground is very level at the foot of the cross.