Second Look: Devoted
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42, ESV).
Acts 2:42 mentions four things to which members of the early church devoted themselves: the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers. The word devote is a strong word. A person is devoted to the things to which he gives most or all of his time, resources, energy, and attention.
In certain instances, the word devote can mean "to be set apart," much like we use the word consecrate or dedicate. For example, a place can be devoted (set apart, consecrated, dedicated) to the worship of God, meaning that that place exists for the sole purpose of worshiping God. It has no other use.
With that in mind, then, to say that members of the early church devoted themselves to the word, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayers is quite a statement. And one of the things for which the church from the very beginning set itself apart was fellowship. It's not a word we use all that much outside the context of the Bible or church.
For me growing up, fellowship was a potluck meal we had after the Sunday evening service every so often. Somehow Merriam and Webster still haven't gotten around to including that definition. The ones they do provide, however, include "companionship," "company," "the state of being a fellow or associate," and "a company of equals or friends." When you're sitting in someone's living room or around the dining room table with a group of friends and you are considered part of the group—you're "in"—that's fellowship.
At the face of it, that sounds like a rather strange thing to devote oneself to. Oh sure, you'd expect "devotion to the apostles' teaching" to make the list. But to say that the early church spent large amounts of time, energy, and resources into bringing people together and creating an atmosphere in which they all felt like equal members of the family? It's stunning and beautiful all at the same time. It's a reflection of the heart of God that manifests itself in his children. Of course his children would devote themselves to such a thing when he has devoted himself to making a place at the table for people like you and me.
If there was ever a time when people the world over needed the blessing of being brought in, included, and given a chair at the table in equal standing with everyone else gathered, it's now, and in light of who our Father is, we believers of all people should feel most devoted to it. As we grow in our devotion to the word, the breaking of bread, and prayer, may we also grow in our devotion to fellowship.
Longing for you to find your place at the table,
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