In the famous words of Forrest Gump, "Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots." It was quite the recognizable quote after that movie came out and isn't that analogy one that most of us can relate to? Maybe for some of you it's more like Elvis and Blue Suede Shoes, Meat and Potatoes or Maverick and Goose. The point is we can often relate to moments, people, food or music that just seem to go together. For whatever reason, it just works. In contrast, several of us have been faced with the dilemma of putting water on that bowl of cereal now that you've realized there isn't any milk or been at a wedding doing your best electric slide when the DJ transitions to "Endless Love". You know you've been there, and it's uncomfortable isn't it? When things feel or seem like they don't go "together" it creates a disharmony in us. Some might even say it causes them stress, anxiety and maybe even sadness or anger.
The question I'm going to pose is this; have you ever thought that maybe you were created this way? To feel disharmony, awkwardness, maybe tension or discomfort when you aren't feeling together with something or someone. Have you ever given that any thought? That thought is what prompted me to write this post, but first, let me give you some background as to how I landed here. I've been starting to study the book of Acts for a Life Group that my wife and I are involved in. As I'm doing so, this word, or dare I say theme of "together" appears over and over and I was only through chapter 4 or 5 at the time. As a matter of fact, the use of the word "together" or this idea of being together with others is used over a half dozen times in just the first two chapters.
Before I go down this road in Acts, let us backup to the question of creation I asked earlier. Are we designed for togetherness? Well, Genesis 2:18 says the following, "And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." If you keep reading, a few verses later God created woman. The thing I find interesting here is that Adam was far from "alone". He was with God and amidst all other creation at this point. So what was missing? Someone "comparable" to him. There were no other beings like him, and Adam would have recognized this since he had just finished naming all of them. If you're still asking yourself, what does this have to do with togetherness? Well, for the first time in creation God said that something was "not good". Everything else up until now, God had said, "was good". What was He referring to? It was that Adam did not have an equal or wasn't "together" with someone like himself. Another way to look at it is that he had no one like him to be in relationship with. So to answer my own question; I believe that God designed us to be together or in relationship with others, especially with those comparable to us.
Let's get back to the early church in Acts and see what this whole togetherness thing looked like for them and maybe even challenge you to reflect on what it looks like in your life, family and church. Now I wouldn't consider myself a bible scholar by any means, so please feel free to make any corrections or additions in the comments. (After all, I hope we are all here to grow) Right out of the gate in Acts 1:12 we see that "they" returned to Jerusalem. Not just Peter, not just James or John but "they". Meaning all of them who had just watched their fearless leader and teacher disappear into the clouds. Now if that doesn't set the stage for a few of these guys to wander off and sort some things out, I don't know what does. But what do they do? Stick together! Not only do they stick together, but they meet up with 108 other friends to pray and get through some necessary business. How often can we say that we respond this way? When something heavy happens in our life; is our response to be together with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Or do we withdraw and try to get through it on our own? I know that I'm guilty of that all too often. How about when we have a big decision to make? Do we share and ask others to help us pray for wisdom? Do we collectively go to God? Read Acts 1:24; "and they prayed". It wasn't just Peter who did the praying, they did the praying. I'm sure this was a little easier for them as they had been through a few things together to say the least, but we see this type of companionship even with new believers at the end of chapter 2. They devoted themselves to learning and participation in community, they shared meals together and yes prayed together. This behavior was so evident that Luke pens in verse 44 that "and all who believed were together and had all things in common." To illustrate this even further, they embraced their togetherness to the point of selling their possessions to ensure that nobody went without. That seems like a pretty foreign concept amid a culture that increasingly praises independence. In a country that has long touted its patriotic unity; we sure seem to glorify the independently wealthy, the strong individual, the star player or the person that "Did It My Way" (sorry Frank). Now don't mistake that statement for some anti-American opinion, its not; I'm just attempting to point out where we generally seem to place our value. Not wrong per say, but maybe not so "United" either. We don't celebrate the collective the same way we honor the individual in my opinion. There isn't anything inherently wrong with some independence, but most of us haven't exactly subscribed to the type of communal living as illustrated throughout the first few chapters of Acts. I'm sure some of us do this better than others and it isn't meant to cast judgement, but how many of us give our money or our time on a regular basis to something that doesn't impact our own needs? How much of our Christian life, Christ-like life, do we spend devoted to others? Have we settled for just giving our extra? Our extra time, extra money, extra talents, our extra (insert whatever) you have? Or are we committed to "selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." as stated in verse 45 of chapter 2?
Now I'm not positive of how all this directly translates to today, but I do believe that the truths of the bible were, are, and always will be applicable for everyday living. So with that said; what do we know about the impact this togetherness had on believers? Verse 46 tells us by living together they had "glad and generous hearts", they "praised God", and had "favor with all the people". Favor in that verse meaning "Grace"; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness. As a result "the Lord added to their numbers day by day.....those who were being saved." Meditate on that for a few minutes...
These people were living their lives with one another in such a way that it became infectious. Those around them wanted in on the action. When they spent time and lived life "together" they witnessed first hand and I'm sure felt in harmony with how they were relationaly designed.
I'll finish with this. During a time when your individuality seems to be celebrated, your strength is defined by your independence and the evil in this world is doing everything it can to separate you from others "comparable" to you and those who "had all things in common" with you, will you concede to those lies or will you live with your brothers and sisters like you "goes together like peas and carrots"?