Tag Archives: Fellowship

Lobby Love

In our men’s Bible Study this morning we were discussing 2 Peter 1:5-7 and the characteristics that support our faith. Peter strings together a long list:

For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.

The list moves from faith to love.  The Greek language of the New Testament had several different words for love: phileo, eros, storge, agape. In this list the last two characteristics both center on love: phileo and agape.

Phileo was a more common word for mutual affection.(Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, is named for this virtue). I imagine two friends working side-by-side to accomplish a task. An example might be offensive linemen on a football team, striving together in protect their quarterback. A strong team has a sense of phileo.

Agape was not a word used as much in Greek, prior to the New Testament. When 1 John 4:7 states “God is love,” the Greek word used is agape. C. S. Lewis in his book, The Four Loves, describes agape as Gift-love and is the unique domain of God. For God so loved that he gave, (John 3:16). The other loves (phileo, eros, storge) are Need-loves which are expressions of our human need for affection, friendship and intimacy. Lewis puts priority on agape, but sees the value in all the other loves as well.

After Bible Study I had a brief discussion with one of the men in the church lobby. He shared how he missed being at church last Sunday. I responded, “I bet you missed both what happened in there (pointing to the worship space) as well as what happen here (indicating the church lobby).” He nodded his head.

Lobby Love is not restricted to the church lobby but was a key part of our Harvest Festival

I have discovered (somewhat begrudgingly) that what draws many people into the congregation is not simply “great worship,” but also “great fellowship.” The opportunity to visit, talk, converse with friends and family after worship is as significant to them as what happens in the worship service itself. The mutual affection (phileo) is a critical part of Christian faith today. In other words, Lobby Love (phileo) can support Worship Love (agape).

This does not mean that Lobby Love can stand on its own. People would not come for the coffee fellowship alone. Church coffee is not as good as Starbucks. Good worship is a key component to good fellowship. It reminds us once again that we are God’s children, cherished by God and that reminder flows into the lobby after worship. We may not speak directly about the Bible text we read that morning, but our kindness towards one another can be a reflection of the loving kindness experienced in worship.

How vital is mutual affection to your faith and love?

Lord Jesus, guide me into deeper fellowship with my brothers and sisters

Acts 2:42 part 1

Studying the Apostle's Teachings

Life in the early church may sound strange to our contemporary ears. The description of miracles and healings, the passionate letters of Paul, and the missionary zeal of the apostles can appear to be other-worldly.  Our lifestyle, political systems, technologies and economic complexities can seem distant from the stories of the Bible. Perhaps that is why I value Acts 2:42 so much.

Acts 2:42 describes the life of the early church in Jerusalem, shortly after Peter preached his first sermon and several thousand people placed their trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. (Acts 2:42)

Their four signs of devotion are still practiced by followers of Jesus today:
1. Apostle’s Teachings
2. Fellowship
3. Breaking of Bread
4. Prayers

Followers of Jesus continue to study the “apostle’s teaching:” Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Book of Acts, the Epistles of Paul, John and Peter.   The apostle’s teachings became our New Testament. We study them to understand who Jesus is and what his life, death and resurrection mean for us.

As we study together we continue to create fellowship, because we discover how the teachings impact our shared lives.  We listen to each other’s joys and sorrows.  We care for one other during times of illness, stress or hardship.  Fellowship is more than a shared cup of coffee after worship; fellowship is the shared cup of blessing and generosity through all of life.

One of my deepest tastes of apostle’s teaching and fellowship came in college when I participated in the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Christian Fellowship.  Every Friday evening twenty to forty college students would gather to study God’s Word and to reflect together how it impacted our lives.  It created a missionary zeal in many of us.  We did not want to simply survive college with our faith intact. We felt a calling to bear witness to Jesus Christ in an often academically hostile environment.   The study and fellowship gave us the courage and compassion to speak.  The ancient devotions brought us life.

How has the study of the apostle’s teaching affected your fellowship?

Tomorrow, reflections on the breaking of bread and prayers.

 Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me to be devoted to your ways.