Text: Psalm 133:1, Malachi 2:10, John 13:35, Acts 4:32, Romans 8:15-17, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 3:8-10, Colossians 3:12-17
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”
- Acts 4:32
This verse sure feels warm and fuzzy. It’s easy to romanticize the friendships in the early Church. But the reality of our own relationships surely lifts the veil. What is true for us must also have been true for them: authentic community takes work.
Mind if I make a confession? I spent most of my adult life trying to live without intimate, Christian friendship. It was too uncomfortable for me, too messy. The investment didn’t seem to match the payout. But living life outside the circle was like being a fish in a mud puddle: I could survive, but I sure didn’t thrive. My patient, loving, imperfect friends have pulled me out into deeper waters again and again.
I used to think this verse from Acts 4 meant the church shared all their “stuff.” Maybe they rotated the ancient equivalent of lawn mowers and weed eaters, or pooled their money to get a better rate at the fish market. There may have been an element of that, but I’m now convinced they had more than stuff in common.
They shared their gifts, recognizing that talents and abilities are given by God “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
They shared their inheritance, recognizing that we’ve been adopted into the same family by the will of the Father (Romans 8:15-17).
They shared a calling, recognizing that we can spend our lives building individual little kingdoms, destined to pass away, or we can join forces to build the only Kingdom promised to stand forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
If the church in Acts was anything like my community of friends, they shared their burdens too. When the weight of hurt or disappointment or rejection becomes too heavy for one of us to carry, we lay it down, knowing someone else in the circle will pick it up.
Just this week, I was hauling a load of heartache so big I worried it might bury me. My friends stepped in and said, “Let us carry this with you.” My circumstances didn’t change, my heart didn’t instantly mend, but I could stand up straight again. When life knocked me down, these friends picked me up. This is a picture of hospitality.
The way we in the Church respond to each other in the toughest times shoots up a flare. It tells a watching world that we are broken and busy people, eternally bound together with the unbreakable chord of Christ’s love.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- John 13:35
Yes, hospitality is worth extending because of the benefits it affords us, but there’s a bigger story being told. Jesus knows we’re His disciples based on evidence found in our hearts. The world knows we’re His disciples based on evidence found in our homes.
Your house isn’t big enough, your floors aren’t clean enough, your cooking skills aren’t accomplished enough. Show hospitality anyway. Our hearts and lives are messy. But when we open our doors and our arms, we’re telling the story of Christ’s love.
If you’re living in a fishbowl, gulping and gasping for air, allow hospitality to pull you into deeper waters. Because it’s not just about gathering; it’s about giving. It’s not about neat and tidy; it’s about the poor and needy. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ and His Church.
Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.