And they…breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
— Acts 2:46
Another holiday tradition my family followed at Christmas time was to gather at close friends’ houses on the Sunday nights leading up to Christmas. For about a month, each week we’d gather at a different house after the Sunday evening church service — and we’d fellowship for hours after the service. People would gather to play board games and other types of games. We also prayed together and sang songs around the piano. These memories formed the foundation of my understanding of the way fellowship should exist in the local church. Those adults and their children were important to me, and I loved them like they were part of my own family.
As a participant in those Sunday night fellowship times, my dad would often buy large sacks of uncooked peanuts, which he would then pour into cake tins and cook in the oven until they were toasted and piping hot. When they were done, he’d pull those baking tins out of the oven and carry them into the main room of the house, where he had spread newspapers over the floor. He’d pour the peanuts out onto the paper, and we would all begin the process of cracking open those warm peanuts. Piles of empty shells would soon fill the newspapers as we gobbled up the peanuts one by one!
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On one Sunday night, someone would bring tacos; the next Sunday, someone would bring desserts. Each Sunday night, we waited to see what special treats we’d share from house to house. What a joy it was to meet in various homes each week in that month before Christmas. The truth is, our group of friends did this all year long — but in the month of December, we really spent time fellowshipping within our circle of Christian friends.
When I think of it, I am reminded of the Early Church and how they were committed to fellowshipping with each other. Acts 2:46 says, “And they [the believers]… breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”
Let’s look at this verse today and see what we can learn about the Christian fellowship that occurred in the Early Church and what God desires for us today. You’re about to discover that Christian fellowship has always been built around food, even in the Early Church!
This verse says that they were “breaking bread from house to house.” Don’t let the words “breaking bread” mislead you into thinking this was a ritual Communion service. The words “breaking bread” was translated from a Greek phrase used to denote sharing a wonderful meal and a time of fellowship and relaxation with friends. It was such a common phrase that even heathens used it when they wanted to experience a time of fellowship with others.
The King James Version says these times of fellowship occurred “from house to house,” but the Greek simply says in private houses. These fellowship events were simply the sharing of food with other friends in Christ — similar to the Sunday night tradition we had among our Christian friends when I was growing up. It is certainly possible that they rotated from house to house, as we did, but the Greek language actually only states that they experienced these times of fellowship in private houses.
And what did they do there in those private houses where their fellowship occurred? They “did eat…” (Acts 2:46). What a role food has had in the fellowship of the saints both then and now!
The words “did eat” are from the word metalambano — a word that means to fully partake of. The grammar used here means there was a lot of eating connected with this rich fellowship! It even tells us what they ate! It says they “did eat their meat.” Meat, of course, was not a part of an official Communion service, but it was a key ingredient in a regular meal! These early believers were eating meals in private homes as a key part of their rich fellowship with one another.
And notice it says they “…did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” The phrase “gladness and singleness” of heart is from the Greek word apheloteti, which refers to generosity. In other words, they left the complications of life outside the door. They enjoyed each other fully once inside those private homes, where generous portions of food and fellowship took place among a house full of believers! Ah — this is exactly what it was like on the Sunday nights leading up to Christmas when I was a young boy!
As you approach this year’s holiday season, why not consider having a houseful of people from your church over for a generous evening of food, fun, and fellowship? These times build relationships and make your union stronger. It doesn’t have to be an eight-course meal. Just throw some peanuts in the oven and bake them until they are ready — or have tacos, chili, or something inexpensive and easy to make. The food helps pull everyone together, but in the end, it’s really not about the quality of the food. It’s about fellowship!
From the beginning of the Church Age to the last of these last days, God’s people have been getting together to strengthen their relationships, to share the love of Christ, and to enjoy one another in “private houses” — outside of a church setting. If you’ve never opened your own home for such an event, maybe this is the year for you to step out by faith and invite a small or large group of people over for an evening of fellowship. And who knows what the Lord will do among you? It may turn out to be a life-changing event for some in the group. Is this your year to step out in faith and throw open the door to your home?
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for the fellowship that exists in the Body of Christ. Because of fellowship, we are made stronger. Fellowship with close friends and family — and the Holy Spirit — makes us stronger and gives us a sound foundation of relationships in the Body of Christ! Help me to use my home to help build stronger relationships in the Christian community to whom I belong!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am a stronger Christian because of my fellowship with other believers over the years. Their fellowship has strengthened me, encouraged me, and taken me to a higher level in my walk with Christ. When I fellowship with other believers, it becomes an opportunity for iron to sharpen iron as we grow in Him together and allow the love of God to bring out the best in one another. I readily acknowledge that I need Christian fellowship, and I cherish it as a treasured gift in my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Have you considered the effect that Christian fellowship has on making you stronger as a believer?
- If you’ve ever lacked Christian fellowship, how did that void affect your life?
- What can you do to encourage more Christian fellowship in your life and to reinforce your Christian walk? I encourage you to make a list and really think it through.