Friday, September 16, 2011

People Together in Mission: Designed For Community (Part 5)

Christ Followers are Devoted to the Mission. 

God is relational and His presence is attractive. His love and grace draws people to himself. Likewise, God’s community is magnetic. Note the early church’s experience in Acts 2:27, "The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

The community of God that I find in scripture is attractive. Recall how lonely people are today. When they see the friendships and activity of God’s presence among his people, the church, it’s captivating. This is only possible in an atmosphere of grace as opposed to legalism.

Our Heavenly Father is a relational being. The triune God himself lives in community. He lives in three parts that are intimately involved with each other, so with us being made in His image, it’s natural that He communicates to us through relationships. This community is to be found in His church.

  • In true community you can see people for who they really are, people desperately in need of God’s grace.
  • In community you can see God for who He really is. 
  • In community you can see the true friendships that God desires for every believer. 

When people see these three things they are going to want in. “The Lord added to their number daily those being saved.” You don’t have to feel lonely any more. Do you want to be a part of a community that desires to be in God’s presence? Do you want to join people who are dedicated to each other and are devoted to God’s mission?

In his book When God Builds a Church, Bob Russell said,
"The church exploded in growth because the people loved being together. When you get a group of people together who genuinely believe something and who really enjoy each other, it’s such a contagious atmosphere that you can’t keep people away from it.”  
God’s mission actually resides in the midst of His gathered community. In the book Desiring God, John Piper explains, “Missions is the automatic outflow and overflow of love for Christ. We delight to enlarge our joy in him by extending it to others.” As Christ followers, we are meant for community and this design is missional. As Jesus said, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:35 Message Bible). As God’s gathered people, we are together and we are on a mission.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A People Together: Designed For Community (Part 4)

Christ Followers are dedicated to each other. 

I want you to notice some of the imagery found in Acts 2:42-27. There’s a picture I see of the early church that is quite revealing…Everyone was filled with awe, all the believers were together, and every day they continued to meet together. 

The early church understood and had a clear sense of community. They wanted to be together and they were dedicated to each other’s needs. We are told if a practical, physical need arose, the early church sold their possessions and gave to anyone who had need. If a spiritual need arose, this tight knit group of people would be available for that as well, to help and pray.

Life can obviously be difficult and unfair. Dennis Wholey says, "Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian." The bad news in life is that tragedy happens. A good example of this is Matt Chandler and PJ Smyth: godly men who have had to battle cancer. There is good news, however. If you are a member of the body of Christ, you don't have to go through difficulties alone.

Do you know what happens when a church loves to be around each other this much? What occurs when hardship comes on one who is part of God’s family? Encouragement is given. Prayers are offered up. Sometimes checks are written. The body of Christ does exactly what our name implies: we become Jesus to that person in the midst of hardship.

The local church is a community called together by God. We are friends together who will help you in anything. So when someone gets a job promotion or a raise or if they’re pregnant or getting married, we all celebrate together! Conversely, if something bad happens and someone loses a job or a loved one dies, we all mourn together. We are a people dedicated to one another. We are called to be like the church in Acts 2, where “all who believed were together and had all things in common.”