Summary: This adapted sermon of Rick Warren challenges us to participate in the 40 Days of Community and join a small group.
What on earth are WE here for? That’s really the question we are asking over these 40 Days of Community. God has placed us here on this earth, in this place, and at this time for a reason, for a purpose. We are not here by accident. We are part of God’s plan. God’s #1 reason for bringing us on this earth, as Jesus said it we are here "to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength," and to "love each other," that’s called the Great Commandment in the Bible. We are here preparing for what God wants us to be doing for eternity, being in loving relationship with God and others. Eternal life with God is a place of love and relationships. It’s not golfing everyday or fill in your favorite activity. It’s about love, and we are here to practice. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it, but if we are honest with ourselves we realize it’s not easy, in fact it’s impossible to do completely because our natural tendency is not to love God and others. Our natural tendency is to be self-centered and look out for ourselves. Sure we might love our family, or our spouse, those who love us in return but we rarely love all people, or love God and put his priorities ahead of our own. Jesus said, "if you love me, obey what I command."
First, we need God to change us from the inside out, to change our hearts, to place a love there if we are to accomplish what God has placed us here to do, because otherwise we won’t do it. Jesus came to this earth so we might be changed from the inside out, to cleanse us, to change our hearts, heart surgery if you will, and to change how we think. I start here because without being changed inwardly you won’t change your behavior outwardly, you won’t live out God’s purposes for you here on this earth. You might give it your best shot, but eventually you will fall back into your old patterns of behavior. We receive God’s love by receiving his Son, Jesus said if you love me, my Father will love you. Perhaps your first step this morning is to realize you need Jesus to change your heart.
How do we love God and love others? Four years ago we did the 40 Days of Purpose campaign and explored these five purposes God has given us to demonstrate our love to him and others: 1) We worship God, 2) we fellowship together (connect with each other developing deeper relationships with other Christians), 3) we grow spiritually (that is to say we grow closer to God and become more like him), 4) we serve one another, 5) we reach out in God’s love to those in our community who are not connected with God and his family. Over the next six weeks we are going to look again at each of these in more detail, but the big difference between the 40 Days of Purpose and the 40 Days of Community is the word "WE" and "together," what on earth are WE here for, because it’s not just about me and what God has placed me here for. It’s about "WE", God has created us to fulfill his purposes together. What we are going to discover is that it’s impossible for me accomplish God’s purposes on my own, I need others. I need God’s family. I need Christian community to fulfill God’s purposes, because we are "Better Together."
I realize this goes counter to our American cultural. It’s the exact opposite of what you’ve been taught your entire life. In America we have been taught that independence is what it’s all about. Our nation was founded on the Declaration of...Independence. The pioneer, the cowboy, the astronaut, the scientist pushing the limits, going where no person has gone before. "I don’t need anybody to help me, to tell me what to do." We have been taught to think that success and happiness is the result of being independent. While independence can have its perks, it is unfortunately not part of God’s plan, and therefore we are seeing the results of where independence is leading us in our country, isolation, loneliness, depression, greed, and to be perfectly honest with you we tend to become more self-absorbed, caring less about others or about God. Eventually independence leads not to happiness but to emptiness and lack of fulfillment. Why? Because we are not doing what God placed us on this earth to do, we find the greatest fulfillment when we love God and love others. Independence is not God’s answer. God’s answer is community, interdependence.
Notice what the Bible says there in Romans chapter 12 (v. 5, NLT). Let’s read it aloud together, "Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others." Turn to the person next to you and say, "You need me." Go ahead. "You need me." All right. Now also, I want you to say, "I need you." Go ahead. "I need you."