The picture you see below is special to me for several reasons. For one, my friends and I all look ON FLEEK in this photo, and ya’ll, this is a big deal because I have been told on multiple occasions that I am not photogenic.
Secondly, this picture is special to me because it was taken thirty seconds before I left Providence, and made the 1 hour and 46 minute drive to New Haven, Connecticut. This picture represents the moment I left my community back in Rhode Island and entered into the new chapter of my life as a campus pastor at Yale.
I believe many of you may have experienced something similar as you made the transition from high school to college, as you left the comfort of your strong communities of friends and family and entered into a completely new chapter of life. Like me, you found yourself in New Haven, forced to confront the reality that you must re-learn the art of creating community.
Whether you’re a freshman, a senior, a divinity student, or a campus pastor, I believe we all have an innate desire to experience deep and authentic community. I want to assert that in order to see this transform from a desire to a reality, you must be the community you wish to see.
In Acts Chapter 2:42-47, God gives us an incredible example of community, and verse 42 acts as a recipe on how to see this ideal become real.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Four things are mentioned here: the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. I want to focus on the idea of fellowship.
I once heard someone say, “There’s a difference between Christian friendship and Christian fellowship.” I couldn’t agree more. The word fellowship comes from the Greek word koinonia, often translated to mean community. And when you break down the word community, you see two words: common and unity. What unites the group of people described in the verse above is the common unity that their identities are found in Christ, and Christ alone.
Fellowship is not just about discovering another person who loves Veggie Tales and Chick-fil-A (though those are both great things), it’s about finding another person, a group of people who desire to love God with all of their heart, mind, and soul. It’s about experiencing life with a group of individuals who desperately seek to live as Jesus did and encourage you to do the same.
But it isn’t easy. The struggle is real. One of the greatest realizations I had in college was that I could always make myself busy. There was always another email I could send and another problem set I could complete, but at the end of the day, I had to decide where I was going to devote my time.
Verse 42 urges us to devote ourselves to the fellowship, but devotion takes sacrifice. Devotion to the fellowship looks like prioritizing your schedule so that your Tuesday nights are devoted to TNL and your Thursday or Friday nights are devoted to core group. Devotion to the fellowship looks like taking an hour away from an essay to grab a meal with a friend in need.
I strongly believe Yale Chi Alpha can be and is already becoming the type of community we see described in Acts chapter 2:42-47. As you enter into the fifth week of this semester, I want to encourage you all to continue reflecting on the passage and consider these questions:
- To what am I devoting myself? What communities am I a part of? Where am I devoting my time?
- Are there things that are preventing me from BEING the community? Fear? Past Hurt? Rejection? What might it look like to invite Jesus into those hard places?