The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer ... All the believers were together and had everything in common ... and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
One of the best living situations I have had outside of marriage was with Jim Williams the Navigator staff worker in El Paso. He rented a house in the centre of town and invited three of us to join him. 4720 Chesterfield was the centre of the ministry. We had ministry nights there every two weeks, when the place was filled with the buzz of people meeting with each other and with God. There were Bible study nights where many of the rooms would be filled with small groups getting to meet with God directly as they studied a passage of scripture back home and then came to discuss their various discoveries.
Such was the atmosphere of the building, but it was even better between the four of us. There was a sense of mission that bound us together and gave us a common vision. I have lived in houses where there were a group of people who happen to live in the same apartment or house. Each one has his own life, his own work and the coming together is much more a matter of convenience and dividing up the cost of a place to live. Here though there was a mission that bound us, a mission in which we each had a part to play. We were all meeting up individually with students at the University to help them develop their Christian lives. We were involved in evangelism on the UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) campus. We were all seeking God in Bible study. We prayed together, we shared together and we ministered together.
This togetherness made the business of living together something that was beyond the drudgery of chores. Of course cooking is cooking and any opportunity to escape was welcome, but there was a sense of belonging together that made it all worth while. Jim came up with a system where each of us in turn did all the shopping and cooking for a week. It seemed that Jim did more than his fair share, especially with the garden, but there was still a much more willing attitude.
This community was in part that we were all followers of Jesus, but it went beyond that, for I have lived in houses where all have been believers and it was still not the same. Rather, it seemed that the mission gave each one of us an outward focus and being the same focus brought us together more strongly. It put a perspective on what we were sharing about our lives that put everything into perspective, it gave us a natural common interest that was more than just an interest, it was a genuine and deep concern for each of the others.
I described it to a salesman who was visiting our company once and he described it as a commune which I reacted against because of the Hindu connotation, but in many ways it was a true form of community with overtones of the situation in the first chapters of Acts.