Summary: All the believers were together and had everything in common...
Becoming a Community
Last week we began a series on the early church. A group of Christians that were on fire for Christ and who were committed to each other and to the spreading of the gospel, no matter what it took. We read a description of this church in Acts chapter 2 that I want to read for you again this morning.
We talked last week about the fact that this is the ideal, this is the model of what the church is supposed to look like. It paints a picture of oneness, of unity. It gives us a model for community in the church, for the church body meeting the needs of people in the way that it is called to do. The church is to be a family, it is to be a place to belong. Last week we looked at the changes that had taken place that took us from the OT law, the way it was, to the NT church, the way God intended it. The most significant of those changes was in the Presence. In the OT, God was distant and inaccessible because of the sins of the people. Now, through the sacrifice of Christ, God’s presence is available to all and we read about the physical coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. The Spirit came in power and filled the room and came upon each of the apostles and filled them as well, they had walked with God, but now they were filled with His Spirit. His presence was in them and gave them the strength for the task that lay ahead of them. The change in the presence brought about a remarkable change in the people. The apostles went from cowards who ran away from trouble to heroes of the faith. The people in that early church had gone from unbelievers who had nothing in common to sold out disciples who shared all they had together. The rest of the book of Acts is an amazing account what God did through this community of believers. The persecution, the boldness, the miracles, the growth, the explosion of the Gospel to the known world. What a change! And as those people’s lives were changed by the presence of God in them, they proclaimed a message that was different, it had changed as well. The process of guilt and sacrifice had been replaced by faith in Christ and the forgiveness that comes from a relationship with Him. So, there had been some significant changes that had taken place that lead up to this passage that we’re going to be spending the next several weeks looking at.
This morning and next week, we’re going to look deeper at the idea of community within the church and we’re really going to be concentrating on just one verse. Verse 44, look again at what this verse says. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
This is the place to start when it comes to building community in the church, togetherness and common ground. Those are the building blocks of community. We’re really going to get into those more next week, but before we do that, I want to first spend today, looking at the benefits of community. This was meant to be one sermon but it was too much to cram into one week and I remembered that I get to preach again next week, so we are going to split this into a mini series inside of our bigger series. This week we will look the benefits of Community to set the stage for next week where we will look at these building blocks and the barriers to community within the church.
A Community has been defined as a unified body of individuals with common character and common interests, who share joint ownership and participation in something. That certainly described the early church but is that how you would describe most churches today? Country clubs, maybe. Neighborhood watch groups and even some bars would fall under this definition but unfortunately church wouldn’t be the first thing that usually pops into someone’s head when you mention community. As we strive to change that here, as we strive to be an example in this neighborhood of a godly community of believers, I want to point out some of the benefits that we’ll begin to notice.
I. Benefits of Community
What’s the big deal about community in the church? Why is it necessary that as we grow in numbers we also grow in relationship with and dependence on each other? There are so many benefits to building community among us here in this ministry, this morning, I only have time to comment on two. The first one addresses a very basic need that we all have. Why is community so important? Because with community comes a: