Making Room for the Church
Open Your Bible
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
BY Erin Davis
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 bowl: 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 spiritual gifts are given by God “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4–11).
They shared the hope of glory, 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 little, individual kingdoms, destined to pass away, or we can join forces to join God in working on the only kingdom promised to stand forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
If the church in Acts was anything like my community of friends, the people there 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, too, is a picture of hospitality. The way we in the Church respond to each other in the toughest of 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 everyone will know that we are [His] disciples, if [we] love 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 the evidence found in our hearts. The world knows we’re His disciples based on the evidence found in our homes. It doesn’t matter if our houses are big enough, if our floors are clean enough, if our cooking skills are accomplished enough—we should 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.