The content of this post may be quite different than what you expect from the title. Hopefully, you will understand the connection by the time you get to the end of the post.
A couple of months ago, a young lady in the church suggested that we all camp together. She made all of the arrangements, so this Friday evening we began gathering at a group camp site not far from Durham, NC on Falls Lake. By Sunday afternoon, at least 34 people had camped overnight, and over 60 people joined us during the day for fellowship around the camp fire, singing, preaching, etc.
My family began the weekend between 5:30 and 7:30 Friday evening (our children went to the camp site with another family before my wife and I arrived). In all, we spent 45 hours together. While I do not believe that early Christianity was “communal”, I can understand the attraction. It was a very encouraging time!
So what did we do for 45 hours? Well, we slept some, ate alot (sharing food that each family brought), talked, prayed for and with one another, sang hymns, played games, read Scripture, played football, fished, taught, swam, shared testimonies, roasted marshmallows, played with babies and children, sat around the fire, splashed in the lake, confessed sin, canoed, encouraged one another to maturity in Christ, etc. In other words, we shared life in Christ.
Sunday morning, instead of gathering in our usual location, we gathered at the camp site. Those who didn’t camp joined us that morning. One of the men taught from 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (we have a schedule of men who teach through a particular book on Sunday mornings). As part of that passage, Paul says that he is writing to Timothy “so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” As we looked around that morning, there was no “church building”, but there was the church. And we understood better what Paul meant about “conducting ourselves” in the church – that is, among the people that were sitting around the camp fire that morning, as well as among all believers as the Holy Spirit gathers us together. After our morning gathering, we shared the Lord’s Supper and a meal, continuing to enjoy the church: the pillar and support of the truth.
There were several memorable moments from last weekend. One of the comments that sticks out most to me came from the mouth of a young boy. He said, “Wouldn’t it be great if all the believers in this area could gather together like this.” I think his desire is good. I think it is a godly desire. I look forward to many more times of fellowship and “sharing the life” with the church that camped this weekend. I also look forward to a time when I am gathered together with many other believers – some that I do not know yet. Yes, I know that this will happen in the eschaton.
But, I wonder, along with this boy, could it happen now?