x436.........Unity Based On Commonness

The church of the Bible--directly after the day of Pentecost, is described as having "unity". Unity is a thing that is often spoken of in our churches today. But the unity which we often seek after is really uniformity to the will of man. It is often used as a threat--people are sometimes afraid to speak what the Lord is showing them--or afraid to speak in any way contrary to the leadership and they will often say "I did not want to break unity".

Unity becomes uniformity in a church when we accept the rulership of man--when we accept the concept of authority one over another. Jesus specifically said in the Bible that amongst ourselves we should not exercise authority one over another--


"And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." (Luke 22:25-26, KJV).


When we build the church upon the wrong concept of authority, ministry and the operational plan of the Bible--when we believe that Christian leadership has the right to "rule with authority" over us--we have moved the church into the realm of uniformity--and away from the Godly unity which the Bible describes.

Bible unity was not based on rulership of leaders. It was not based on authority. It was not what we believe unity to be--it was not uniformity based on fear. There was no one who had the fear of speaking out of turn and "breaking unity"--since the unity which the Bible shows us was based on commonness.


42* ¶ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43* And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44* And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46* And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47* Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2: 42-47)


Let's notice what the Bible says their unity was based on--

42* ¶ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Notice--the leadership of the church were the apostles. But the Bible clearly says that all the church was in fellowship with the apostles--it does not say

"...they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and rulership........."

nor does it say--

"......they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and authority......"

The Bible tells us that the unity was based on fellowship--


koinonia koinonia {koy-nohn-ee'-ah} n f

----- fellowship 12, communion 4, communication 1, distribution 1, contribution 1, to communicate 1; 20

1) fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

1a) the share which one has in anything, participation

1b) intercourse, fellowship, intimacy

1b1) the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)

1c) a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship


One of the meanings of "fellowship" is "joint particpation". All the people were in joint participation in the ministry of this church.

Something to consider: this was a church of thousands of people--

41* Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41)

And yet the Bible says that the leadership--the apostles--were in fellowship with all the people--it definitely does not say that they were in "rulership over" the people. (Of course in the Bible, the fact was that the real leader of the church was Christ the Head of the church!--Christ, whom they fully understood, sat at the right hand of the Father--with all power and authority--the Head of the church!! Do we really understand this?)


Today we have many Christian churches which consist of thousands of members. Question: how many of these churches have a group of leaders--all of whom have intimate fellowship with the members? Or would these churches better be described as large bodies that have leadership which consider themselves "celebrities" and are distant from the people--and in fact "rule with authority over the people"--just as the kings of the past. Do we have unity of fellowship that the Bible describes in a big church, or do we have uniformity with fear to mans rulership?

[Something else to note: A church with thousands of members--yet no "Sunday rule"--which says that "allthe memebers must attend this one daya week. Rather, they operate as Jesus did--a network. They meet every day (perhps around the clock!) in small numbers. They operate by what Jesus had told them--where 2 or 3 are gathered--there I am inthe midst. Imagine a church of thousands, meeeting in samll groups--as often as possible. In these meetings--prayer, but prayer with a purpose. They had the opportunity to receive the specific instructions from God--through the prophetic gifts of the Spirit--and quickly and immediately act upon these instructions. There must have been witnessing going on continually, in exactly the places and times that the Lord was commanding. It now becomes clear why they had the result that--"the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."!!!]


But wait a minute--doesn't the next verse say that everyone was afraid?

43* "And fear came upon every soul: ..."


Fear:

phobos {fob'-os} n m

---- fear 41, terror 3, misc 3; 47

1) fear, dread, terror

1a) that which strikes terror

2) reverence for one's husband

As we can see this word has two meanings. It could mean fear or terror--but it could also mean reverence--respect. Considering it's use in this context, reverence for God and respect for one another seems to fit rather than "terror".


44* "And all that believed were together, and had all things common;"

This verse continues to describe the unity and fellowship which this church had. All the church--including the apostles--had "all things common"


Common:

koinov koinos {koy-nos'} adj

-----common 7, unclean 3, defiled 1, unholy 1; 12

1) common

2) common i.e. ordinary, belonging to generality

2a) by the Jews, unhallowed, profane, Levitically unclean


This is a word which is related to "fellowship" (koinonia). The meaning of this word is much like the concept of fellowship--a type of commonness--of common relation--of unity. This is the type of unity which God wants--which God gives to us as our example.

The meaning as described here relates the word "common" to something being "unclean" or unholy--"Levitcally unclean". The understanding in this area is somewhat like this--a large group of Christians--all working--praying--eating together in their homes--and all having the understanding of the Gospel--"Hey I'm unclean--I'm a sinner--and so are you" We are all on the same level really--all sinners saved by grace. Let's all work together--let's all spread this Good News--that sinners--unclean like us--can be saved by the blood of Jesus!

The view that the early church had of itself can be understood through this one word. The "commonness" which they had, related to "unclean meat". If we were to study Levitcal law, we would understand that there were really 3 types of classifications for meat. That which was clean--therefore was used as sin sacrifice to God, and also could be eaten. Secondly, there was unclean meat (such as pork) which was considered unclean for sacrifice, and also unclean for consumption. But, there was a third category of meat--meat which was unclean for sacrifice, yet could be consumed---this was fish. (I believe this is why fish is considered to not be meat--it could be consumed on fast days--etc--according to old traditions). The early church used a symbol to represent itself--the ichthys--a symbol of a fish. This is how they considered themselves--how they thought of their operation in the Spirit--like a school of fish, moving in unity, as if guided by and unseen hand--moving together in power with one another--not following the command of any one "fish"--but rather following the commands of Christ through the direction of the Spirit. All under the direct authority of an unseen hand--"Christ the Head of every man"--"Christ the Head of the church"


The "commonness" which is stated here is not just among the people--but between the apostles and everyone. The leaders were following the example of Jesus--to serve others rather than to rule. They were serving (ministering) the word of God to the people--on a common basis. They were definitely not ruling with authority over the people.

46* And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47* Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The previous verse described the basis of the unity--and now we see here the statement that these things--the fellowship of all the people--the "commonness" which they all functioned under--(which precludes any separation or superiority of leadership), was what brought about the result of all being in "one accord"


One Accord:

omoyumadon homothumadon {hom-oth-oo-mad-on'} adv

-----with one accord 11, with one mind 1; 12

1) with one mind, with one accord, with one passion

++++ A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to "rush along" and "in unison". The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonise in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ's church.


to "rush along" and "in unison"

This is an incredible concept--to rush along in unison. The picture is of thousands of people--all functioning and operating in Gods' perfect will--an incredibly powerful unity--based on the humbleness of "commonness". All the people "rushing along"--moving--working --doing the will of God with immediacy--with quickness--with power. No one leading but God. No one "enforcing" unity--but just the fact of their commonness--the fact that all were together with everything common--the fact that they all had the clear understanding of the Gospel of grace in their hearts--all empowered by the Holy Spirit--but none any higher than another--none "ruling" over another--the Spirit of God ruling and operating thousands of people all at once--with the basis of all things common among one another.


Question: Can your church be described in this way?

The unity which the Bible describes is foreign to our concepts of what "church" ought to look like. Why? Because for hundreds of years we have had wrong example which became our tradition and expectation. The "church" became the epitome of the wrong kingdom--of the wrong concept of authority, ministry and function. The kingdom of the Gentiles (the Roman government) married the church--and injected it's worldly concepts into the lives of Christians and most especially the operation of the church. Ministry became rulership--instead of service. Leadership became rulership with authority--instead of service to all. Unity became uniformity to the rule of man--rather than the unity of the Holy Spirit--based on commonness and fellowship amongst all.

Church---seek the higher calling!