Today we visited Poppi, Italy. This castle sits at the top of the hill in Poppi.
This is one of many reasons that I love Europe. I am a nerd. I love history. I could have stayed in this castle all day, but Charlie made me leave.
I also remembered today that I have a subconscious fear of heights. I become aware of this fear at the point of no return. Like today for example, when I was halfway to the top of the castle bell tower. We climbed a few hundred outrageously steep, wooden, creaky stairs just to see the bell. At some point I looked down and instantly remembered that heights freak me out. The same thing happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Odd. How can you have a subconscious fear of something? I’m not afraid of heights. I just can’t control feeling like I just might plunge to my death. Eh, in the end it is always worth it. The view we saw today is one that you just don’t see very often.
I wonder what it was like to live in that castle in the 1300s.
I have been thinking all day about what I would write today. One passage has stayed with me, but I continued to divert myself away from it. Maybe because I am just not sure what I want to say about it. I feel like I could say several things. In the end I decided to just stick with it; I guess, since it has been on my mind all day.
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Acts 2:42-47 NASB
So many many many thoughts run through my mind and so many questions arise when I read this. I only want to mention a few. Really, I want to pose a few questions as well.
For context…. The day of Pentecost (which is this coming Sunday) (which I will also be spending with my Italian gospel choir!!!!) has just occurred. The apostles have been filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter, being filled with the Spirit, boldly preaches the gospel to those in the area who were accusing the apostles of drunkenness. It says in Acts that those listening “were pierced to the heart” by Peter’s words and sought what they needed to do. They repented and were baptized and then this passage follows.
They repented, they were baptized, and then they were together.
The NASB, ESV, and HCSB versions of verse 44 all say the believers were together and had all things in common. What does it mean that they were together and had all things in common? Were they always together? Were they ONLY together for meals, but had several meals together? Were they all together by being in one town? Or sharing their homes? What does it mean to have all things in common? I mean, what does it really mean? What does that look like?
Matthew Henry comments that “the Holy Ghost filled them with such love, as made every one to be to another as to himself, and so made all things common, not by destroying property, but doing away with selfishness, and causing charity.” Step 1) Be filled with love. Know Jesus. Really know Jesus. Step 2) What’s mine is yours. We are family.
Yea but…… No no. Believer, family, we must love and we must share. I am sorry that America paints a different picture. America teaches us to build fences and have garage doors and bedrooms for each individual child. Don’t knock your fence down, or crash into your garage door, or do anything involving your children. I’m just pointing things out. Just think about what our culture teaches that sets us in opposition to how Jesus lived.
They were together, as in communal, and they ate together. They broke bread together and they took meals together. My church has fellowship meals when something needs to be celebrated or communicated. Occasionally we have an ice cream social, which I say should happen, at minimum, quarterly. On Wednesday nights we eat together before discipleship classes. Sunday and Wednesday are my two favorite days of the week, because I eat and pray with my family. (Shout out to the Sunday night crew. Wendy’s for life! Ew.) Still, how often do we eat in one another’s homes? They broke bread from house to house and took meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.
Church (any and every church), are you together? Are you spending time with one another? Are you breaking bread together in the homes of each other? Is all of your fellowship done AT church instead of WITH the church? Are all of your fellowship times parties or large gatherings? When was the last time you sat around YOUR dinner table at YOUR home to share a meal with your church? Do you pray for one another in these times? Not corporate prayer, but intimate prayer for one another because you have truly shared life around the dinner table.
This is hard for us. It requires vulnerability. We are afraid of vulnerability. Why? Jesus has already died for all of what makes us fear being vulnerable. LET JESUS HANDLE IT.
vs 37 ~ when they heard Peter’s words, the unbelieving were pierced to the heart and believed.
vs 41 ~ they were baptized.
vs 42 ~ they devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer
vs 44 ~ they were together and all was common
vs 46 ~ they broke bread and took meals together
vs 47 ~ THEY HAD FAVOR WITH ALL THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD ADDED TO THEIR NUMBER
The end result of their togetherness and vulnerability with one another and meals together was salvation for those around. Yes, true togetherness in independent America is an absurd concept. But what if the people saw? What would they say? Church, do we look like America, or do we look like Jesus followers?
Be vulnerable together.
Grow in number together.
3 thoughts on “Castles aren’t America, but fences are.”
“Is all your fellowship done AT the church instead of WITH the church?” Good word, Courtney…and yes, I’m guilty. I need to tear down some fences…
I wonder if none of us had fences… would New Iberia flood into our church? Praying that we all can begin to see our fences and create some holes in them.
One thing I’ve truly missed from up north (other than family) is the sharing of meals with our church family… We typically ate together on Sundays and Wednesdays but we also had a weekly small group gathering where we would eat a meal together, study the Word, and prayed together. We also had several couples who would get together multiple times throughout the week at someone’s house. In other words, we did “life” together 🙂 The bonds that grew out of these times of fellowship remain strong to this day! We try to get together with these precious brothers and sisters every chance we get whenever we make an extended trip up north… We have joined Kevin & Roni’s small group on Tuesday evenings and are thoroughly enjoying the developing relationships being built there! Everyone is welcome, the more the merrier 🙂