Our Pastor is currently doing a series about Kingdom Living and has brought up a lot of good points. This past Sunday, the message was basically about spontaneous community. He first reviewed thoughts and Scripture passages about community itself and how we’re called to be in community with one another and how great the need is. The main text was Acts 2:41-47,
“Therefore those who accepted and welcomed his message were baptized, and there were added that day about 3,000 souls. And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers. And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers). And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].”
Focusing on this last bit (in bold), our Pastor pointed out how everyone was hospitable to each other, both believers and unbelievers. They (the church) were associating with everyone in gladness and with generous hearts. They were in favor and goodwill with all the people, and more and more people were turning to Jesus.
Pastor D was pointing out how we aren’t supposed to be “separatists” or “elitists”, saying we’re only going to associate with other believers or only do business with believers, etc. Nor should we befriend unbelievers just to be a “pet project” to convert them. Instead, we need to focus on just showing Christ’s love.
One way to do this is by creating “community”. He started talking about spontaneous community. One example was of one of us from the church showing up at the local park with a bunch of hot dogs and start grilling them and serving them up to anyone who happens to be there that day. Another example was of someone deciding to have a cook out at their house and invite their neighbors, co-workers, and church friends alike.
The Pastor’s words were echoing in my mind as I spontaneously decided to take my two youngest daughters to story time at the library on Tuesday. We haven’t been to story time in a very long time because my youngest has been taking a morning nap up until recently. And with the beautiful weather, I didn’t want to stay home all day.
As we were scurrying around getting ready to go, I had a flashback come to mind of a friend of mine in PA, Sara. Several years ago, (I can’t remember if my middle was born yet or not), saw me at story time, and in a moment of what seemed to be “spontaneous community”, invited me and a few other moms to her house afterwards for pancakes. I went and got to know her and the other moms better, and really enjoyed her thoughtfulness, hospitality, community, and yes, her spontaneity. (I’m a planner & organizer, so being spontaneous isn’t really my forte.)
I thought about turning the tables…what would it be like for me to suddenly invite some moms over? Well, I’d be wondering if I had all the necessary ingredients at home, or enough ingredients… or what about the milk supply, like if someone’s child needed a refill? In the rushing around to get ready, the remnants of breakfast were still splashed out over the table and cereal crumbs ground into the carpet… certainly I’d need to wipe the table, vacuum the floors, and somehow squeeze all the dirty dishes into the dishwasher!!! I didn’t think my pantry or my house would be able to handle it… or is that rather, my own ego and pride?!?!
I’m reminded of the classic Bible story of Mary & Martha, out of Luke 10:38-42. Jesus, (and probably some disciples and people that were traveling with Him), happened to come to a village “and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her house”. This is clearly a case of unplanned visitor(s).
Martha’s sister, Mary, just sat down and drank in the words of Jesus. The Amplified Bible says,”But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving…” She was upset that Mary wasn’t helping out. Martha told Jesus to tell Mary, “to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!” Then Jesus told Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.”
In Sara’s shoes, I would have been “anxious and troubled about many things”. I would have been upset if as soon as we got home, my daughters didn’t start helping to clean up the house. Can you see me at warp speed trying to clean and yell for help from my 4-year-old as I’m tripping over my 1-year-old? Can you hear the kitchen cupboard doors banging around in a frantic assessment of what they contain? It would hardly be an enjoyable experience in that state!!!
But Sara modeled a wonderful “Mary” example that day, as well as the kind of community from the church in Acts. She welcomed us into her home – one that was tidy, but yet I knew she hadn’t necessarily been planning on having company. She dug around in her cupboards for ingredients and bowls. She found enough kid-friendly cups to serve drinks in. The kids played in the playroom and we all gathered around the dining table for pancakes. Sara was serving with gladness and simplicity (just pancakes!) and a generous heart. She chose “the good portion” – the joy of spontaneous community, over any anxieties, tasks, or pride in what her house looked like or if she ran out of milk. (If you’re reading this, Thank You, Sara…you rock!!!)
So did I pull “a Sara” at story time on Tuesday? No. But I was delighted to help a mom who had a sleeping child in her arms who came up to me and asked if I would put her son’s coat on him for her. I don’t know why she chose to ask me. However, one of these days, maybe I’ll even surprise myself and follow Sara’s lead. I know there are many blessings to be found when we engage in spontaneous community!
Have you ever been a hostess to spontaneous community? Was it stressful or joyful?
If you’re a Christ-follower, do you have trouble associating with non-believers? Or do you intermingle and shine your Light?