Summary: This sermons is about growing as a community.
Being One in Spirit
June 24, 2001
What would most people say if you asked them, “what’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word Christian or church?”
- What do you think most people would say?
- Loving, Caring, Serving the Community, Welcoming, Generous, Authentic, Unified
- Or do you think the words “legalistic”, “judgmental”, “Intolerant”, “mean” appear?
- Rather than being known for our love, we have b/c known for positions on moral and ethical issues… for being out of touch, “holier-than-thou”, for being right-wing Republican extremists.
The sad truth is that in many cases, the world is right. As a church as believers, we certainly don’t seem to have mastered the fine art of “loving” very well.
- Consistent stream of people struggling with relationships
- Rather than being outward and sacrificial, we’ve b/c much like the world… preoccupied with ourselves, looking out for number one.
- Of course, its not just us… its our culture who touts virtues, which go against the grain of how we were created… as social beings.
- We see commercials of the “rugged individualist”… that mountaineer climbing up to the top of the mountain with his dog and box of Grapenuts… looking so free. But does rugged individualism free us as people or cause isolation?
- One person was boasting about how, via the Internet, you can carry on a conversation with someone 2000 miles away.
o Why would you want to do this? Isn’t it better to go out for a cup of coffee with your friend? What happened to healthy relationships?
o Do these chat rooms free us as people or cause even a great disconnect with the world around us?
Again, it’s not just us… but our culture… even the very structure of our communities: Urban Architect wrote an article on modern communities
- Do you think most new homes are being created with people in mind… with the aim of building nice communities where people can interact and live comfortably?
- No! New communities are being built with your car’s comfort in mind, not yours.
- Have you noticed that very few homes are built with front porches… and if they were built with front porches, no one hardly ever sits out on them?
- But how many homes have big decks in the fenced in back yard!
- You can have someone approach his house after work and click the garage opener… drive into the garage, get out, enter the house thru the garage, and close the garage door without the slightest possibility of connecting to a neighbor.
- What happened to Andy playing his guitar on the front porch with Barney harmonizing and Aunt Bee knitting?
- All these thing have contributed to the heightened sense of loneliness and disconnectedness people feel today as compared with even a decade ago.
Yet, in spite of our culture, the church is called to be different…
- we’re called to be a community where people can be real with one another
- where people can share their hearts without fear of being judged or labeled unspiritual.
- We’re called to be a community where together relationships are characterized by love, honesty, and respect… stirring one another on as friends toward deeper intimacy with Jesus.
I believe this was Paul’s vision for Christian community as well.
- In Philippians 2:1-4 Paul shares with the church at Philippi his heart for how the members of their fellowship can relate with one another like this..
- Actually, we know that one of the issues Paul was addressing in this letter was the apparent problem brewing between several believers in the church in Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche.
- He basically tells them, “listen, as believers, you have everything you need in order to live joyfully… in terms of your life, relationship with God, and with one another.
- Then he focuses on several of these things, knowing that if the reality of these things would truly touch their hearts, their relationships at work, at home, or in their fellowships, would completely change. He says…
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
The first thing that stands out from these passages are the “if any” statements:
- It’s Paul’s way of telling them, “hey, look, you’ve got all the ingredients for joy… I just want you to recognize them and let them touch you.”