Devoted: What's It Mean?

Root System

The redwood trees in California are amazing. Some are 300 feet high and more than 2,500 years old. Walking in the midst of them is an awe-inspiring wonder.

To attempt to comprehend the marvel of their height and age can cause a brain to spin a bit crazily. Each tree is stiff and straight, displaying a military bearing that conjures up ideas of guards standing at attention.

Their immensity is staggering. One would think that they must have a vast root system that goes down hundreds of feet, but no—redwoods have a very shallow root system.

However, the roots are crisscrossed and entangled in a complex, ingenious web. With an interlocking root system they support and sustain each other—they require connection and rely on each other to survive.

There’s a lesson for us here—consider what a first-century physician turned reporter wrote about the fledgling church in Jerusalem.

Acts 2:42-47 - NIV

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Fellowship & Community

It wasn’t easy to follow Christ in the first-century—all these years later it still isn’t easy to follow Christ and truly live for him.

We are confronted by so many obstacles, yet we are not alone. God’s design is for us to need each other—since he’s the manufacturer there are specifications hardwired into us. Like the redwoods, we are to be bound together by intertwined roots of fellowship and community.

Each cell in the body of Christ ought to be a family of disciples devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer. What does the word devoted mean in the twenty-first century?

Is that about the same as the word commitment? We are devoted or committed to the interwoven fabric of fellowship and community as long as it lines up with our priorities, hobbies, interests, and schedules. Of course those all too real behavior patterns are contrary to the definition of devoted.

Here's a short-list of synonyms for devoted—dedicated, faithful, true, committed, loyal. The bottom-line is that there is desperation in our need for each other—God expects us to be devoted, loyal, and committed.

A Catholic priest and writer, Henri Nouwen, put it well: “We are unified by our common weaknesses, our common failures, our common disappointments, and our common inconsistencies.”

Not sure why the church never gets this—we are all in this mess together. We all face the same weaknesses, the same failures, the same disappointments, the same inconsistencies.

We all experience the highs and lows of the human condition, and we need to be honest with each other, for when we are, we learn and grow together. We must consistently take off our masks and quit pretending that everything is just fine and dandy, thank you very much.

When we sincerely share our struggles, then God connects us and can guide us regarding proper priorities, values, and morals. Through our interactions God can help us make the right choices and good decisions, and make no mistake about this: God yearns to guide us.

It’s within the context of community we come to understand God’s Word. The guidance and help we receive in community is essential to our well-being, especially in the relativistic times in which we live, when right is wrong, and wrong is right—when words mean whatever the user wants them to mean.

Being The Church

To be authentically involved in a community of faith is crucial to our spiritual well-being.

As we face the inevitable trials, troubles, and tragedies of life, God intends that we be encouraged and empowered by the community of believers. When we get slammed by the storms of life we should receive succor and sustenance from each other.

Here’s an often forgotten truth: God works in our lives through other believers. When setbacks smack us down, and we doubt God’s love and purpose—when life stinks and the whole world smells like baby poop, that’s when we urgently require God’s people to be the church.

When we are loved and cared for by other believers, especially during hardships or heartaches, we gain a new sense of God’s love. We cannot stand alone—we need each other—we need the community of faith.

Every cell in the body of Christ must continually put into practice being the church to and for each other—not sure why that message is mostly missed by church leaders and lay people.

Doing church seems to have become much more vital than being the church, when the command is radically different: We are actually called and commissioned to be the church.

There are expectations placed upon every individual believer in Jesus Christ—we all have a God-given responsibility to reach out, serve, care, and minister to each other. What set the early church apart from its surrounding culture was love—outsiders were blown away by how those first believers loved each other.

We are to love with selfless abandon. Love acts—it serves God and others. The early church shared much more extensively as a result of economic and social sanctions imposed upon them—shouldering burdens together is still God’s plan for meeting the needs in the body of Christ.

Prickly Humanity

Being part of a caring community is not without its problems and complications. After all, we’re a bunch of recovering sinners who experience relapses more often than we’d like to admit.

The mark of community—true Biblical community—is not the absence of conflict but the presence of a reconciling spirit. There can be union without unity—tie two cats together by their tails and throw them in a burlap sack. In the hissing, screeching, and thrashing there’d be a forced union, but certainly not unity, and definitely no reconciling spirit.

In our humanness we all do things to rub others the wrong way—we all have our moments when we trespass against others. Nevertheless, we must not back away from the fellowship of faith. We must make an unwavering commitment to a community of believers. It’s not optional.

Our reality is not unlike a pack of porcupines marooned one bitter cold night in the middle of a large frozen field. There was no way to escape the biting wind. They could not burrow into the frozen ground. Their choices were limited.

Out of necessity they formed a tight huddle to keep warm—in doing so their sharp quills began to pinch. The closer they moved together the more the pain increased, but the confining discomfort was accompanied by an accumulation of body heat that kept them alive. Some of the animals could not bear the annoying pokes, and drew apart to sleep alone—those that went off on their own froze to death.

In closeness our prickly humanity is ever-present—there are times when we offend or distress each other. Our tendency is to withdraw and go it alone. We must resist that predisposition for the profoundly simple reason that God created us to be in community.

Life & Faith

The journey of life and faith is often trying, difficult, and painful. We must all deal with the cold reality of discouragement, temptation, failure, debilitating sins, doubts, ridicule, heavy burdens, along with a host of unanswered questions.

Is it any surprise that God has given us the fellowship of believers to prop us up and help us along our way? Do we take these relationships for granted or do we cherish them?

In Christ we are a community of faith—are we devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer?

Suppose it is entirely dependent on the meaning of devoted.

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Comments 30 comments

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Great write Ken. The people are Christ's church. Thank you!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're welcome, Micky Dee. Thank you.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Brother Ken: As the Church of Christ, We are many parts. We are all one body.

Brother Dave.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dave - You're right. That's what we are, but we seldom live up to what we are--we need to work much harder at being the church.


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Beautiful and inspirational.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

As a PK, my first impression were the Democrats were going to "Devote" the Republicans... I am glad to read and learn "Devoted" is dedicated exclusively to a purpose in the bible. Thanks for sharing.


RevLady profile image

RevLady 5 years ago from Lantana, Florida

Ken,

I think Christians have gotten so tangled in the world's mentality that we have lost ourselves as His people in the process. Secularism promotes individuality, not community and we have allowed this spirit of separatism to grow in the Body of Christ as in clearly seen in all the thousands of church denominations and divisions.

One thing is for certain, until we truly become devoted to the Ancient of Days, we will be unable to devote ourselves fully to His cause and each other.

Thank you for this meditation that calls for Christians everywhere to “step up to the plate” of our faith and become one Body in Him who is the Head.

All love and peace in His name,

Forever His,


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, CM.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

dallas93444 - You're welcome. Thanks for stopping in. Glad you enjoyed the visit.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Saundra - Thanks for the thoughtful comments. You're exactly right. The individualism promoted & glorified in our culture truly is detrimental to community.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

We need our faith in God and the hereafter even more today when as you say " when right is wrong, and wrong is right—when words mean whatever the user wants them to mean." Givng this a useful rating!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Peggy W - Thank you for your comments & rating. Much appreciated.


Treasuresofheaven profile image

Treasuresofheaven 5 years ago from Michigan

Hi Ken, much food for thought here. I especially appreciate, being the church and not so much, doing the church. Good topic.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Treasuresofheaven - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Glad you did. Blessings.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 5 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Your introduction using the example of the redwood's root sytem was beautiful. "....they support and sustain each other—they require connection and rely on each other to survive."

Oh ,yes ! A lesson indeed. WE are the church,the body.We need unity and each other to thrive.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

bayoulady - Thank you for your words of affirmation & encouragement. Much appreciated. Blessings.


UlrikeGrace profile image

UlrikeGrace 5 years ago from Canada

Ken incredible hub...thank you for that. In the spring of 09 a dear friend gave my hubby and I a book called "So you don't want to go to Church anymore?" written by Wayne Jacobsen. I was scared of this book at first and let my husband have first go a I didn't want to read a Church bashing book. but it was no where near Church bashing in fact what it really did is get us (hubby & I) to reevaluate how we do Church and we have been on that journey ever since. God has also brought along our path others who are also looking for "real" community...I would love to say its been wonderful all the way, but like you said we all have warts and bumps and so we have been learning to walk and support each other through the issues and struggles. It hasn't been easy but it has been an enriching and root deepening experience. Your hub has so encouraged me as I hope it will others. Bless you Ken...I love your straight forward teachings/exhortations. Love your sister in Christ...Ulrike Grace


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

UlrikeGrace - Thank you so much for stopping in & sharing. It's always good to hear aspect of someone's spiritual journey. Your kind, gracious words are much appreciated. Blessing, peace & encouragement to you.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Ken, another meaningful message that I needed to hear. I now can use it for a study guide, I thank you and voted you up for the work you put in to making your articles of Faith, Peace, dusty


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dusty - Thanks, man. And you're welcome. I appreciate the affirmation. Blessings.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town

I am not one to blow smoke, or to call attention.....

I simply say, " thank you", hoping you will accept it in the spirit that it is given.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

onegoodwoman - I receive your thanks & simply respond by saying, you're welcome & blessings to you.


Ray Thoughts profile image

Ray Thoughts 5 years ago from The East Coast

Great Job Ken! Your words are encouraging and I agree....Christians need each other to survive! God never intended that we be an island but that we be more like the Redwoods! Good analogy!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Ray Thoughts - Thanks for stopping in & sharing thoughtful comments. Much appreciated.


DavePrice profile image

DavePrice 5 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

Bringing the beauty of the redwoods into the discussion of fellowship is a great analogy that I have scheduled some further meditation on - thanks for the inspiration.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

DavePrice - You're welcome. Thank you for your comments.


pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

The majestic Redwoods stand the test of time as does Christianity. Thank you for the inspirational words of wisdom.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

pmccray - You're welcome. Thank you for the visit. Blessings to you.


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

Wonderful hub Ken..I firmly believe that if we would let go of judgements and just love others it would make a huge difference...faith, hope, love these three and the greatest of these is love.

I love your writing...keep it up.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dee aka Nonna - Thank you for your thoughtful comments & encouragement. Much appreciated.

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