Day 11

Making Room for the Church

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.

Post Comments (101)

101 thoughts on "Making Room for the Church"

  1. Deanna Koffler says:

    “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 that is promised to stand forever.” So powerful!

  2. Melody Plumb says:

    I struggle here now. My oldest son has autism and sometimes behavior issues. There is one other family in our church that is in this same situation. It is exhausting and mentally/physically taxing sometimes. A few people come to say Hi but that has been it. Our church planted a new church about 5-6 years ago and all of the people who we were ”doing life” with left. Now I feel as though we are treading water in the smallest boat ever. I don’t have as much energy as I used to, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Just keeping house in order with our kids is enough some days. Family is not local, we have no regular childcare help. I feel alone all the time and I have become resentful which is not of Christ. I am tired.

    1. Deanna Koffler says:

      Melody, I can’t begin to understand the challenges you face on the daily. But I do know that our loving Father is WITH you. Praying for comfort for your heart, and strength and grace to persevere as you walk out this path you are on.

    2. Sarah Taylor says:

      Melody, no two situations are exactly alike, but I do feel your pain, as a fellow mom to a child with special needs. I’m going to pray for you this morning, and may I encourage you with this thought? I have found the deepest joy getting involved in the lives of others experiencing special needs and inviting them into my home. Blessings!

    3. Susie Roundhill says:

      I prayed for you this morning, Melody. I understand the pain & exhaustion as well as isolation. (My son w/ autism is 27 and we still have the occasional setback). As Deanna said, He is with you. I am praying that even in a small way you are encouraged today.

  3. NanaK says:

    About 7 years ago, we moved from a town where we had lived for 30 years raising our family. We had a church home and groups that we were involved with. We moved into a very small community outside of a larger town and attend a church that has 30 folks on a good Sunday. They are all significantly older than we are (and we aren’t young) and have interacted together for years. While everyone is genuinely kind and loving, it has been difficult to get “in.” Does that make sense? No one is purposefully ostracizing us–yet I don’t get this close family feeling that you all talk about. This study has been very enlightening on many areas where I will be more intentional in my efforts to share hospitality. I do ask for your prayers in this aspect–it is hard to “swim out in deeper waters,” and the fear of rejection is ever present. Lord, help me remember, it’s not about me–it’s about You and sharing Your love with others.

  4. Missy says:

    Erica, I moved to a new country and after kid #2 decided to start hosting a weekly play group. No agenda, no big prep, just open the doors from 10-12 and see who shows up. It seems like we’ve had the United Nations come hang out at some point or another, but it’s been a blessing to get to know these people, connect, make some lifelong family friends, and see my kids start to pick up on what hospitality can look like even at their young ages.

  5. Churchmouse says:

    Church family is marvelous and messy. I’ve been involved in churches that truly had all the good family feels and others that were superficial and sanctimonious. The church I attend is where I have communal worship but my small home group is my church ‘family.’ They are the ones I do life with. They are the ones who pray with and for me and mine. They are the ones who encourage and rebuke. They are safe and they are steadfast. I meet Jesus face to face every time I am with them and I see His hands and feet in their actions. They bring Him up close and personal to me in very specific, definable and recognizable ways. I have found that the larger church body is simply too large to get that intimate. I love the church but I love ‘my’ church more.

  6. Allison says:

    Shawn! This is an awesome analogy! Thank you! May the rest of your school year be a blessing, and you have a happy summer ahead!

  7. Erica Chiarelli says:

    This is hard for me. My husband and I try to reach out, but we feel often left out and like we do not fit in anywhere. It’s hard. We have a few friends but everyone is so busy in different stages of life that we rarely get together at all. I feel like we don’t have anyone to do life with…that’s hard as a mom. I wish I had other mom friends to reach out to.

    1. Sarah Smith says:

      Erica, how old is/are your kid(s)? It can be hard to find friends to bond with. I’ve been there. When my daughter started school on a very family-friendly community where we now live, we found it easier to make friends when my daughter got invited to birthday parties, etc. Do you have a good church? Small groups certainly make it easier and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I prayed that the Lord would bring a group of believers into our life and He delivered. We have a great small group with families that help and encourage each other in a way that only God could have put together. Praying that you find your “people”! ❤️

      1. Amanda Staib says:

        Erica- I’ll be your friend ! ;) my littles are 4 and 6 and I treasure my sisters in Christ. I know now how valuable they are ! Find me on FB or shoot me an email ! [email protected]

    2. Kailee Tidball says:

      My husband and I have struggled with this as well. We opened our home many, many times for dinner, I hosted a moms group in our home and out of it. I’ve planned more meet ups, coffee dates and play dates than I can count…yet we still don’t have community. Or really even friends. I often find myself fighting against Satan’s lies that I must just be unlikeable. I share all this not to be a Debbie downer but to say you are not alone and building community is harder than it seems it should be and, also, I think people have a hard time slowing down long enough to make time for community. Praying for us both today.

    3. Amanda Staib says:

      Erica! I’ll be your friend ! ;) find me on FB- I treasure my sisters in Christ and haven’t always had these kinds of relationships so I know how much they’re needed. Ask God to provide this. He will!

    4. Carrie Hammer says:

      I relate to this so much. My boys are grown, one still lives with me, but because he made the choice to not graduate from high school I had friends walk away from me. I spend my days alone working, and my evening alone because I am in a relationship where he spends his evening with his children.

  8. Shawn Parks says:

    If I align myself with Christ making room for others becomes a natural way of living. But when I try to set my own course no matter how close I am to Christ making room is much more difficult. My students line up when we walk to the cafeteria. If they are following behind the person in front of them not walking behind them but off to one side—this does not make room for the other classes who are also trying to get to the cafeteria. I will tell them to walk in the direct path of the person before them but they often still are determined to go their own way thinking that perfect alignment is not that important and not realizing that in their chosen path others are relegated to the margins of the hallway. Lord, let my steps align with yours. Let me hear your voice when I try to step out and deceive myself into thinking that stepping just slightly out of alignment is not that big of a deal. To make room for others so that they are not marginalized by me, I must stay on the path you laid before me before I was born.

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