The Pillars of Community XX: Putting It All Together
June 14, 2009
· Carefully read long notes.
Scripture Reading: John 17:20-23
This is the final in our series on community, so I am going to try something new by providing an overview of series.
· Pointless trivia: This is my 75th sermon here.
We will briefly go through the highlights of the 19 sermons, which will take up most of our time and end with asking how were are doing and where do we go from here.
· These are very brief – 16 hours in 45 minutes.
· If you want to learn more, go back to the original sermon.
· The Scriptures are on the handout.
As your son prayed, may we be one as the Trinity is one, an eternal community of three equal yet different persons. When we are unified we testify to the power of the Gospel and your glorious love.
I – Building Community in 2009:
Our mission is to be a Christian community striving to glorify God and engage our culture. In 2009 we will focus on building community, and the purpose of the series was help us understand Biblical, healthy community.
· We defined community as where we belong, serve, and grow.
· It is rooted in God’s nature as Trinity, a holy community.
II – Together or Alone:
God created us with a deep need for community (“not good to be alone”) and we suffer emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually if live in isolation.
· Community occurs in four different forums and all of them are vital: Public, Social, Personal, and Intimate.
III – Grace & Acceptance:
In contrast to the common perception that the church is judgmental, we are called to be a community of grace, where the less wounded care for the more wounded.
· In this environment, people can drop their guard and be open to growth and healing, knowing they’re accepted.
IV – Truth-telling in Community:
· God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way, and the same should be true of the community.
We are often blind to our own sins and we need the community to speak truth to us, but this must be done carefully, with love, affection, and humility and typically requires getting “permission” to speak.
V – Doing Your Part (Cecil):
Part of being a community is serving each other. In this we act like our God, who is a servant.
· Like a family or a body, we all need each other and we shortchange the community if we don’t do our part.
· Serve according to the gifts and abilities God has given us.
VI – How and When to Confront: (Linked to “Truth-telling”)
Sometimes we have to confront a person who we are not in community with because they are doing significant injury to us, to others, or themselves. How do we do that?
· Called to be peacemakers (not peace-fakers or peace-breakers).
· This requires humility, prayer, love, and wisdom.
If the person refuses to change, we may have to end a relationship: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
VII – Alone with God:
“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community.”(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
· Healthy community requires that we each have a vibrant personal relationship with God and a healthy inner life.
These are cultivated by spiritual disciplines: worship, silence and solitude, prayer, Bible study, meditation, and journaling.
VIII – True Confessions:
We think of confession as a legalistic ritual, but it’s a gift from God that moves us from isolation to grace, brings healing, and extends freedom from guilt, through community.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
· It’s acknowledging sin, repenting, and striving to grow.
· The person we confess to must be trustworthy in their ability to help us grow and to keep confidence.
IX – Forgiveness & Freedom:
In community there will be ample need for forgiveness! Forgiving does not mean forgetting, but freedom from bitterness and the need for revenge.
· We have been forgiven a great debt and need to respond by forgiving those who have hurt us in both small and great ways.
X – Generous Giving (Peter):
Everything we have belongs to God and he is a generous giver. We should then give out of gratitude.
Giving is God’s means for supporting the work of his kingdom, whether in local churches and ministries or overseas missions.
· Looking at the bulletin, you can see finances are a struggle.
XI – Devoted to Prayer, Devoted to Each Other:
“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for another, or collapses.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Prayer allows us to 1) participate in his work, 2) feel God’s heart towards those we are praying for, and 3) takes us beyond our best to his best.
XII – Getting Rid of Gossip:
· Gossip is one of those underrated sins, but Paul puts it is a list of big sins.
Gossip is sharing negative information, which may or may not be true, about a person or group to a person who doesn’t need to be involved, without godly motivation.
· It hurts us, the person we speak to and speak about, and the entire community.
XIII – Holy Hospitality:
Hospitality is not having your friends over, but welcoming in strangers as God has welcomed us. It is a building block of community – it welcomes in people into the community, they “come as a stranger, leave as a friend.”
· It prevents community from becoming a clique (Satan would love to limit our effectiveness) and opens up our hearts.
We this of hospitality as a gift that God has given a few, but it is a spiritual discipline for all. Sunday mornings are prime hospitality time.
XIV – Holy Conflict (Cecil):
Conflict is not always a bad thing; in fact conflict handled properly can actually bring a community closer as we stop “being agreeable” and start being real.
Looking at Corinth, unhealthy ways of handling conflict include ignoring it or insisting on one’s own rights over the cause of the Gospel or the good of the church. We have a hard time not putting ourselves first.
XV – Community and Unity:
Unity is obviously key to community, but the bigger and more diverse a community gets, the harder it is to stay unified.
...make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:2-4
Unity requires love, mutual affection, humility, serving each other, and valuing the strength of diversity that is united by purpose. Diversity brings conflict, but strength.
XVI – Accepted by God & Community:
“Healthy community requires healthy people” – if a person hasn’t grasped and internalized God’s unconditional love, the community will never be able to give them what they need. Yet community is perhaps the best place to become healthy.
A healthy understanding of our identity as Christians requires that we have a sense of:
1. Unconditional love: Does God really love me?
2. Worthiness: Am I good person?
3. Belonging: Am I accepted by others?
4. Competence: Am I doing what I am supposed to do?
We have to help each other truly understand God’s love and acceptance, even though it means confronting our own fear of rejection and showing love to some unlovable folks. (4/26/09)
XVII – Single in Community:
Whether you are single or married, God calls you to be content. There are advantages to both.
Singles are encouraged to be God-honoring and productive members of the community and families are encouraged to intentionally integrate singles into the community. (5/3/09)
XVIII – Families in Community:
Parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children yet the community plays a vital assisting role.
· God expects more experienced mothers to mentor the less experienced.
· The community is to love, respect, and value the children.
XIX – Celebrating Communion Together:
“Never preach a sermon that would still be true is Jesus hadn’t died.” True community (bound together in Christ, the barriers of sin broken down, able to offer grace) requires the cross, which is celebrated at communion, a community event.
· Communion both symbolizes deliverance from sin looks forward to “Wedding Feast” in heaven.
· It is a joyful event, yet we must prepare for it to ensure we take it meaningfully and free from disunity.
Q & A
Where do we go from here?
We close by asking, have we been successful? Are we a healthier community now than 6 months ago?
I think so – we have more community groups and more people connected, but the true measure is not something we can gauge. Community happens in many different forums and not all of them are official meetings.
· My most important growth has come through an unofficial group.
So I need each of you to evaluate yourself and your family: Are you connected to the community (on several levels)?
· Do have a sense of belonging and acceptance?
· Are you intentionally pushing each other to grow?
· Are you serving each other?
Talk to God about this during worship. At the bottom of the handout are some questions I want you to begin considering and to discuss in you your community group.
Obviously this is a starting point, not a finish line. Building community will be a continuing challenge for us as a church and as individuals.