"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship..." - Acts 2:42a
Food. Yummy, yummy food! Just think of your favorite meal, your last Thanksgiving feast, or even a nice hot burger or pizza on Friday family movie night. Food nurtures us, makes us happy, adds texture and flavor and fun to our lives, making them a little more zestful. Isn't it true? We all love to eat! When we are feeling a little weak from not eating, as soon as we get a little protein in us, we feel fine. We even like to watch others make food as we pay to sit in a restaurant that allows the cook to make your meal in front of you, or watching Rachel Ray on the Food Channel. Baking cookies with our kids or making a romantic dinner with our lover all adds such rich depth to our lives. We like food and everything associated with it, other than our resulting bulging waistlines and negative doctor's reports.
Yet, along with food, we love eating with others. Who joins us for a meal makes the meal fuller, more enjoyable, filling it with life and fun. Think for a moment about how you feel when you eat a meal out or at home alone, with an empty table or an empty house. Ask any young single or older widow how it feels to routinely eat alone. It just is not the same as when our table is full of family and friends, or even close associates, as in a work luncheon. Others add to the experience, making it rich and full. Food and fellowship matter and go together as salt and pepper, as a close, loving husband and wife, John Elway and the Denver Broncos, or as Han Solo and Chewbecca. They are intricately and forever linked.
So it is with God's Word and His people. The power of being fed the Word of God and enjoying the encouragement and support of fellow Christians who share life with us is immense! The Bible says, "The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul" (Psalm 19:7). Again the Scriptures share, "I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord" (Psalm 122:1). However, this truth is so easily and often forgotten by those who abandon attending church. The Word of God and the people of God. Soul food. They feed our souls like protein feeds our muscles. The two go hand in hand, always together. Why? The Bible gives us the answer in our quest to find the secret of soul food. The Bible says, "For where two of three gather in my Name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20). Now we have the secret of soul food, of the power of gathering together as the church to learn the Word of God through preaching and teaching, and fellowshipping with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The Spirit of God makes both the Word of God and the people of God come to life. He empowers His Word and His people to enliven one another. He is the Source for both. He ties all three together in a supernatural matrix where God interacts and builds up His people through His Word and His people interacting thoughtfully and prayerfully. Often, this effect cannot be explained, but just enjoyed and experienced. Like good jazz, good friends, and soul food.
Think about a positive time when you went to a Bible study, church worship service, mission trip, or potluck. How did you feel on that great occassion? Did you feel like you connected to others? To God? Did you feel like you heard from God? Was your soul filled with some little spark of God? As you shared your heart with a fellow believer who listened closely, attentively, and loved you as they encouraged you with the Word of God, you were strengthened. As they were praying with you, spending time with you, caring about your pain or just normal life challenges, your soul flourished. Maybe they followed up with a phone call, a visit, or note of love. Did this not lift your spirits and lighten your load? Did it not give wind to the sails of your soul? What about as you worshipped. Were you not lifted up, did you not feel closer to God, in touch with the Almighty, maybe even carried away with joy? That is the power of being together. Coming to church regularly matters. Even Jesus Himself attended church weekly, as revealed in the book of Luke (see Luke 4:15-22a - Jesus went to the synagogues on the Sabbath day each week and studied the Scriptures with God's people). If it was good enough for the Son of God to prioritize it, it must be good enough for us, God's creations in His image. Jesus needed regular, weekly soul food, and so do we.
Now we have a seriously powerful reason to attend church regularly. Now we know why out text above says the early church, "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship..." (Acts 2:42a). Gathering together around God's Word made them strong and vibrant! So they devoted themselves to gathering together around the Word. They did not abandon dong this. The book of Hebrews supports this idea as it encourages us to, "...let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--- and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ's return] approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25). The reason is simple. We are better together! Let us remember to never forgo gathering together as the people of God around the Word of God to connect to God. As we do, we will see our souls and lives lifted! Will you be in church this coming weekend? Or if you work on weekends, will you be there midweek on a day off? There is no substitute for gathering together at church around God's Word. Soul food is strong food. We need it to grow. See you at church soon to get your next helping of soul food.