Dinner Parties

Coffee Mugs
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
— Acts 2:42-47, NIV

In the time of the early church, there was electricity in the air. Three thousand people had just been baptized and added to the family of believers.

When you put yourself in those guys' shoes, you can almost feel it—the buzz of the Spirit moving as a result of their devotion to God. The KJV says, "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship," and in Hebrews 10:25, the apostle Paul urged readers to "not give up meeting together as some [were] in the habit of doing." Paul knew the value of community. Let us all continue steadfastly.

God is simple. He wants to pour out His Spirit. The things the early church did were simple too: the Word, community, remembrance, and prayer. They did life together, centered in Christ, and the Holy Spirit moved significantly. It's so easy in this day and age to overlook the attributes of God in community and withdraw to a life of independence and isolation. 

Man is in desperate need of God and in turn, in need of community. I marvel at how all through the New Testament, God speaks of the body of believers. "The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!" (...) If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Corinthians 12:21-26, NIV). People need God. God works through people. Therefore, people need people. We really are Better Together.

My two pet hates about hosting a dinner party are when invitees don't commit (one way or another) and when guests aren't themselves around the table. So, the next time you're invited to a dinner party, please... 1) RSVP, and 2) come as you are. 

1. RSVP.
Acts 2:42 speaks of devotion and continuing steadfastly in the Word of God, community, remembrance of Jesus, and prayer. When we understand our need for God, we realize the need of doing life with other people. Let us put our fears, selfish desires, and pride aside... and commit. When we ask God to speak to us about community, we're brought to a place of deciding whether or not to go "all in" with the plan laid out in Acts 2:42-47. Devotion to God, and as a result, devotion to people.

  • What are you devoted to?
  • What or who is occupying first place in your life? 

2. Come as you are.
Life is not a masquerade ball. It's more like a potluck. So don't arrive at a dinner party wearing your mask. Come as you are, and bring what you have. When everyone does this, we land up with a beautiful feast. (Come on somebody!) Authentic community is what Paul and his friends lived out. Was there mess? Sure, but that's why Jesus came and died for us. Jesus wasn't afraid of mess. In fact, that's where he showed up most—in the messy lives of ordinary people.

  • Who has God created you to be?
  • Do you feel like you can be your true self when hanging out with people?

Last week, Julie and I shared in the Acts 2:42-47 lifestyle. And that's exactly what it is: a lifestyle. We've planted roots at a new church in Cape Town, and on Thursday evening, we joined some of the other church goers for a life group. We knew nobody but felt like a part of a family.

We shared in the lifestyle again on Saturday evening at a Yebo Life potluck dinner that we hosted at our flat. Fifteen people RSVP'd, brought what they had (including coffee mugs because we only have six), and showed up as themselves. We encouraged each other, read the Word, broke bread, worshipped, prayed, and spent quality time together. God moved, as He promises, and we all left fuller than when we arrived.

That's community. That's Jesus.
 
A dinner party without people is just a dinner. How can you include people in your life this week and make a party of it?

Heart to God.
Spread the Stoke.