January 20, 2019 - Phil Schaefer
Acts 2: 41-46
Gen.1:1 – Everything that exists is in relationship to God. In the beginning, God created… Creation exists in relationship. Men and women are in relationship. Husband and wife, family, people groups, common languages, geography are all in relationship. Christianity shapes and defines our understanding of relationship. It speaks of those who follow Jesus – We are in relationship to Jesus and to one another.The Mission of the church: To be and make disciples of Jesus Christ in authentic community for the good of the world.’ Christianity brings us into community. That’s what it does. That’s what it looks like when you get saved, come to Christ, are born-again, come to faith – whatever term you use - it results in us coming into community with others.It is not good for a man to be alone. I will make your descendants as the sand of the sea. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. When you pray, say, Our Father. Love your neighbor. Bear one another’s burdens.Community is not a generic word. It has intention. People can be in proximity and not be in community. Community carries with it a sense of exchange. I share my life and you share your life. Community is doing life together and it is sharing life together. When Jesus says go and make disciples, he did not mean go and get people saved. He meant for us to go and draw people into the life of community that I will have with them and they will have with one another. Bring them in.Simon and Garfunkle – I am a rock – about being hurt by love
I’ve built walls / a fortress deep and mighty / that none may penetrate / I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain /
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain / I am a rock / I am an island.I have my books / and my poetry to protect me / I am shielded in my armor / hiding in my room / safe within my womb / I touch no one and no one touches me / I am a rock / I am an island / And a rock feels no pain / and an island never cries.Do you know what that describes? It describes hell. Hell is isolation. Hell is no relationship. Hell is separation from God and his creation. We are not made for hell. We are made for life, saved for life, created to learn how to live in community – in relationship – in sharing life. Sin isolates us; fragments us; separates us; puts us in solitary confinement. Sin wants to break down our faith, hope, love.The Gospel restores us; it unites us; it sets us into community.
The Gospel is never for individuals but always for a people.This is what we see in Acts 2 at the launching of the work of the Holy Spirit – People are drawn into community.
This is the foundation of being the church. Notice the various pieces:It is identifiable – v.44 – Now all who believed were together - Who is my group? Who are my people? It moves us from I to we; from your to our.
It is intentional – We have set times for when we meet. It is not just a random catching up.
It is being together – in the temple and from house to house – I am not performing some obligation. The Holy Spirit brings us together.
It is about sharing – it crosses over from small talk into substance. It moves into your personal life, sharing fears, burdens, struggles, needs – there is a honesty and a freedom.
It is about heart relationship – I am for these people and they are for me.
Their heart is for me and mine for them.
It is about exploring the life of God – What am I learning? How am I being influenced?We need affirmation. We need correction. We need motivation. This is what happens in an intentional community. We cannot get through the wilderness, the dry time, the dark night without the affirmation and motivation of others. This is the long haul of faith.Spiritual health – vitality - comes from doing life together.A local church is both a large community and a small community.
The church is not meant to be a small group, but neither is it meant to be only a large group. Acts 2 says that they met in the temple (large community) and from house to house (small community).Different ways to connect:GROW
Men’s and women’s groups and studies.
Ongoing short term groups
Kenny Boyce – our philosopher/theologian in residence.
Healing Prayer, Living Waters
Monthly and weekly life groups
One on OneLet me put it simply: I need others to help me grow and stay healthy. Healthy things grow. I need other’s perspective, other’s faith. We need to speak – to verbalize – what God is doing in our lives. Who is your group? We need others because that is how God designed salvation. We need others to speak God’s word to us. We need them again and again.And they continued steadfastly in the fellowship, being together, sharing life.