Summary: Christianity is meant to be lived out in community. We really need each other. This is true for Christians and non-Christians. God has created us both for relationship.

A. Repeat after me…“We are the church of Christ…We love God…We love God’s Word…We love each other…our mission is to make…and mature disciples of Jesus…to the glory of God.”

B. The story is told of a farm boy who accidentally overturned his wagonload of hay on the road.

1. His neighbor came over to give him a hand.

2. “Hey, Willis,” the neighbor said, “forget your troubles for a while and come and have dinner with us. Then we can come back and I’ll help you overturn your wagon.”

3. “That’s nice of you,” Willis answered, “but I don’t think Dad would want me to.”

4. “Aw, come on, son!” the neighbor insisted.

5. “Well, okay,” the boy finally agreed, “but Dad won’t like it.”

6. After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked the host, saying, “I feel a lot better now, but I know my dad is going to be real upset.”

7. “Don’t be silly!” said the neighbor. “By the way, where is your dad?”

8. The boy replied, “Dad’s under the wagon!”

C. This story illustrates a sense of community that we don’t see as much as we used to.

1. In times past, neighbors used to know each other more than they do today.

2. Neighbors used to spend more time helping each other than they do today.

3. Neighbors used to get together to share a meal or entertain each other more than they do today.

4. But for many of us times have changed.

D. Community is much harder to find today.

1. That’s true in big cities and small towns.

2. That’s true in neighborhoods.

3. And sadly, that’s often true even in churches.

E. If we hired an observer to come to our congregation and make a careful analysis of our congregation’s life, what would that person find?

1. What would that person observe about the way we relate to each other?

2. What would he or she observe about the way we interact with each other away from our regular assemblies?

3. Would the person notice any “cliqueiness” (if you will allow me to invent that word)?

4. Would they notice a willingness or an unwillingness to support each other in time of need?

F. A number of years ago some churches allowed themselves to be analyzed in just this way.

1. What they learned, however, was very disturbing.

2. In a series of interviews the members were asked such things as, “How many of those present in the worship service do you know personally?”

3. The great majority of church members had to admit that they knew a very small percentage of the people.

4. Those who gathered for worship on Sunday were, for the most part, an anonymous group of worshipers.

5. However, the most disturbing thing of all was the fact that many of those who were questioned expressed little interest in becoming more involved in the lives of other members.

6. They thought that such relationships had very little to do with the Christian life.

G. Those people couldn’t be any more wrong – relationships in the church are absolutely indispensable.

1. The Bible says much to remind us that our Christianity was never meant to be lived alone.

2. The apostle John wrote: We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 Jn. 1:3-7)

3. Experiencing the salvation of the Lord involves having fellowship with the Father, and the Son, and each other.

4. This is something that the early church understood and experienced.

5. Our Scripture reading showed the early Christians making a commitment to the fellowship.

6. The earliest Christians could never have imagined a Christianity that consisted only in a “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ – which is something we hear a lot about today.

7. They would have considered any personal relationship with God apart from a vital relationship with the church as a counterfeit to real Christianity.

H. But what is real fellowship?

1. Is fellowship visiting in the foyer?

2. Is fellowship a Bible class?

3. Is fellowship a potluck dinner?

4. Fellowship includes those things, but it is so much more than any one of them.

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