If you take a walk through the New Testament, you will see the amazing experience of encountering Jesus. Jesus began teaching and people were amazed at what he said. They saw his love for them and felt the challenge he placed on their lives. It was so obvious that he knew how easily they did wrong and how clearly he pointed them to admit their sin and turn from it. They felt the impact of their sin and the forgiveness he offered. It was stunning.
Jesus followed a pattern. Jesus would ask people to follow Him and they would say yes. Then he would move them to join with the community he was building in order to do life with others who had made the decision to follow Him as well.
You see it over and over again.
Jesus would say, “Come to me,”
…and then He would say, “And get connected with others who have come to me.”
“Follow me, then get connected with others who are following me.
He called them to do life with Him and the rest of the followers as a community.
And He meant it.
What they did, they did together.
When you read the New Testament, you find that when Jesus helped others by healing them or teaching them or whatever . . . Jesus never helped people alone. They did life together.
Even the night before he was crucified, he prayed an incredible prayer for unity among his followers. He prayed for relationships. Jesus brings us together. The forces of evil work to divide us.
And this was so ingrained in them from Jesus, that the first description the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write of the early church, in the second chapter of Acts after Peter stood up and called people to faith in Christ, and some three thousand responded, reads this way:
42They devoted themselves to…the fellowship,…44All the believers were together and had everything in common…46Every day they continued to meet together…They broke bread in their homes and ate together…(Acts 2:42-47, NIV)
But this wasn’t just some generic kind of community. It wasn’t just a loose network of relationships.
It had a name. It was called church. If you follow Jesus, he will lead you to commit to his church.