“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.” – Acts 2:44-46 (NLT)
In the early days of the Church, fellowship was considered to be a very important part of everyday life. Gatherings such as corporate worship and prayer, experiencing the Lord’s Supper together, and getting together at a table to share a meal provided the opportunity to talk about the tenets of their faith, memories of Jesus and what they were hearing God say to them each day as they endeavored to “plant” and grow Jesus’ Church on earth. It must have been an exhilarating time!
But what is it about gathering together with other believers that causes great joy to break out? Here are a just a few reasons for the joy we find in community:
Gathering brings the Presence of God. “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) When we gather as followers of Jesus, he shows up! As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Presence of God brings joy.
Sharing testimony brings joy through edification of our faith. As the believers came together and shared stories about what they saw God doing in the community as they proclaimed the Gospel, the Truth materialized in their presence and their spirits were edified, bringing joy.
Gathering gives us the opportunity to encourage and build one another up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) When we remind fellow believers of who God is and what he has done, we are reenergized in the faith of his sacrifice and the resulting power that flows into our lives. Joy springs forth at the memory of this knowledge.
Gathering allows us the opportunity to share hardships and to be encouraged. Perspectives shared in the believing community generally encourage us to carry on in the ways of God because of the joy set before us – our hope in Christ. Just like Christ endured tremendous trials “for the joy set before him,” fellowship can help us to obtain the same perspective and press in and through to the solution.
These are just a few reasons the gathering of believers contributes to our joy. It’s the reason we should all endeavor to find a local church community to belong to. When we gather with other believers, our ability to apprehend joy becomes a normal reality.