The Life We Share

An A-Z guide for what believers share.

The first and most concise snapshot of New Testament church life is found in the familiar words of Acts 2:42-47:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

In one sense this passage is clearly descriptive, showing how God worked at a precise time and in a distinct culture during the unfolding of his redemptive plan. Acts 2:1, 5, and 8-11 reveal how God-fearing Jews from all over the known world had converged on Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost (called the Feast of Weeks—see Deut. 16:10—or Feast of Harvest—see Ex. 23:16)Suddenly a group of simple Galileans began supernaturally extolling the wonders of God in the various native languages of all these international pilgrims! As Peter boldly seized the moment and declared the good news that the crucified Jesus is the resurrected Messiah, (2:14-40) the hearts of these devout visitors were pierced. About 3,000 accepted Peter's message. They repented and were baptized (v. 41). Just like that, the Church was born.

Does it not make sense that these new converts would want to remain, at least for a time, in Jerusalem? They had just witnessed and experienced the jaw-dropping power of God. No wonder they "devoted themselves" (literally they attached or glued themselves) to the apostles' teaching (v. 42). They wanted to soak up God's truth! It was, in large part, this extended stay on the part of so many foreign visitors that prompted the unusual generosity and hospitality on the part of the Palestinian believers. This is why believers (v. 45) felt impressed to sell their possessions and share with those who had financial needs.

We can safely assume those exact circumstances will never happen to us. However, there is no getting around the fact that the generous "everything in common" life described here (v. 44) is also prescribed throughout the New Testament. Multiple "one another" commands describe our life in "community" with other believers. So what should spiritual fellowship or partnership look like in the 21st century? Here is a basic listing of just some of the ways we can share together a life of rich connection, genuine transformation, and eternal impact.


An A-Z Guide for What Believers Share

A - We share admonishment (Col. 3:16)—words of warning. We share our natural abilities (personal skills, strengths). We share affirmation, continually building up one another. We share accountability (accepting the responsibility to help each other reach the goals we have willingly set).

B - We share good books that have been meaningful in our individual spiritual growth. We share burdens (Gal. 6:2), shouldering one another's excessive loads. We share blessings.

C - We share concerns. We share the comfort (2 Cor. 1:4) we have received from God with each other. We share clothes (ski clothes, hunting jackets, evening gowns, costumes for parties, etc.) We share children (in the sense of taking responsibility to help them grow or offering to babysit for one another) We share chores ("I'll help you wax your car and you help me weed my tomato garden.")

D- We share dreams. We share disappointments and defeats. We share desserts (what kind of small group would we be if we did not do THAT?)

E - We share encouragement. We share emergencies (calling on each other in crisis and being there for one another when life gets scary). We share evenings out.

F - We share failures (confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another so that we may be healed, James 5:16). We share food ("Can I borrow a cup of _______?") We share funny stories.

G - We share our God-given gifts (abilities graciously endowed by the Holy Spirit) in order to build up each other (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4; 1 Pet. 4)

H - We share hopes. We share hospitality (Rom. 12:13) and our homes (e.g. hosting group gatherings, taking in one another during power outages, etc.) We share our heartaches and hurts.

I - We share insights (lessons learned). We share information ("Did you hear that Tom's mom is in the ICU?")

J - We share joys (Romans 12:15). We share java and joe (aka "coffee").

K - We share kindness (1 Thess. 5:15). We share holy kisses (2 Cor. 13:12) or at least holy handshakes and hugs!

L - We share our life stories. We share laughter. We share labor (working together on projects—both personal and kingdom endeavors, 1 Cor. 15:58).

M - We share money (helping each other through financial difficulties). We share ministryexperiences (partnering together in building Christ's kingdom). We share meals. We share movies (and good discussions about them afterwards). We share memories ("Remember that time the men in our group tried to bake lasagna for the women…?")

N - We share natural abilities. We share common needs (the ongoing need for repentance, forgiveness, healing, mercy, transformation, etc.)

O- We share opinions (when they are solicited).

P - We share our problems. We share our unique perspectives. We share prayer requests and prayer times (Eph. 6:18). We share photographs.

Q - We share quotes (great, challenging, soul-stirring, thought-provoking quotes!) We share our troubling questions (about God, life, eternity, marriage, parenting, the Bible, etc.).

R - We share rides (i.e. we carpool when we can). We share recipes. We share needed, loving rebukes (Prov. 27:5-6)

S - We share Scripture (Rom. 15:14). We share spiritual songs (Col. 3:16). We share sorrows (Rom. 12:15). We share service projects (working side-by-side to help those in need). We share sports equipment (golf clubs, hunting rifles, etc.) and other everyday stuff.

T - We share time (our most precious asset and the clearest evidence of sacrificial love). We share tears. We share tools (power equipment, lawn mowers, ladders, etc.)

U - We share unconditional love and acceptance.

V - We share values—the values of Christ's kingdom. We share victories (spiritual and personal and family triumphs). We share vehicles (trucks, mini-vans, convertibles for that special night out, etc.)

W - We share windfalls (e.g. the coupon or gift certificate won at a meeting becomes a way to bless the group). We share wisdom ("Here's what I did in a similar situation—three things that didn't work, and one thing that did…")

X - We share (e)xperience. We share our (e)xpertise ("How about I help you write that speech, and you help me fix my leaky faucet.")

Y - We share yardwork. We share yucky stuff.

Z - We share our zeal. (Rom. 12:11, because excitement and enthusiasm are contagious!)

Just for fun, you may wish to photocopy this article and hand it out to your small group members for reading and dialogue on the subject of "the common life." Here are some questions for discussion:

  • Which of the above items or activities has our group shared most often? Least often? Never?

  • In what specific ways do we excel at sharing?

  • In what listed areas do we need to improve at sharing?

  • Are there any ways or means of sharing that are glaringly absent from the list above?

  • What things do you find most difficult to share?

  • When, and in what ways, are you most inclined to share?

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