They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).
Admit it: if I say the word “fellowship” you immediately think “food.” Food may not be the only thing we associate with fellowship, but the two things are no doubt inseparable in our minds. Why is this? At least part of the reason is because eating food at church has become so ingrained in our church culture (especially in a Baptist church culture!). It’s one of the things we do as often as we can together. But there’s also a far more important reason to associate fellowship with food.
Eating food with other people—no matter how different the individuals might be—illustrates a key element standing behind the biblical concept of koinonia, (i.e. fellowship). The root comes from the word koinos, which is often translated as “common” or “shared.” Thus, koinonia pertains to what we have in common with each other. Sharing a meal, moreover, tends to have a leveling effect as we become keenly aware of what unites us as human beings. We ALL need food for survival.
Yet sharing a meal with other believers symbolizes far more than our common humanity. It teaches us and reminds us of our shared partnership in Christ. Every individual who has been born again through the Holy Spirit’s work is grafted into the Body of Christ. As a result, here’s what we have in common:
- We share the same basis of entry. Admittance into the company of the redeemed cannot be inherited, bought, sold, earned, or taken by force. It can only be received. We all enter the same way, namely, through the shed blood of Jesus on our behalf.
- We share the same responsibility. We are all responsible for ensuring Christ’s church is growing in healthy ways. Although we might have different gifts to contribute, we’re all responsible for contributing what we can.
- We share the same mission. The church exists to reach those who are not currently members of the church. We’re called to do everything we can to take the Gospel to the farthest corners of the earth. Missions work is not optional for the believer.
- We share the same hope. Ultimately, we are citizens of heaven, not earth. Consequently, we put our trust in Christ and long for the day when our Father’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven.”
While food has always been a key draw to bring believers together, let’s make sure we know fellowship isn’t limited to the food. The food merely represents our partnership. It’s a partnership I pray we never take for granted. We need each and every member of the Body.