Summary: The best answer to lonliness is true Biblical community, like we see in Acts 1
Born To Belong
Experiencing Biblical Community: Acts 1
TV Guide recently came up with a list of what they consider the top 50 TV shows of all time; the top 5 were (source: http://www.tvguide.com/50th/features/020429a.asp):
5. The Sopranos – “A complex drama built around a thinking man’s mobster who struggles with two families — his wife and kids, and his gun-toting gang.”
4. All In The Family – a show about a family in all its dysfunction, and how they related and interacted with one another.
3. The Honeymooners – about two couples, the Kramdens and Nortons, living in the same apartment building and sharing life.
2. I Love Lucy – very similar premise – about two couples sharing their lives and wacky adventures.
1. Seinfeld – the only one of the bunch I’ve watched; about “four neurotic New Yorkers… with quirky takes on the seemingly mundane events of daily life.”
Do you see what each of these has in common? They are about people in community – about people sharing their lives and interacting. And with the exception of “The Sopranos”, each of them is about normal, day to day life, and the things that can happen to people in relationships. I don’t know exactly why people watched and loved these shows, but I can take a pretty good guess: something about those communities they are watching resonated with them – they recognize a need deep within themselves to be in relationships like these tv personalities.
Born To Belong:
Mother Theresa of Calcutta knew an awful lot about poverty; she wrote this: “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible type of poverty.”
We live in a lonely world. I think that the vast majority of us, when we stop and take an honest look at our lives, would recognize that we feel that was also. I shared last week that I have been feeling that way. We feel isolated. We feel disconnected. We feel alone. Mother Theresa’s observation rings true in our experience – we are poor in terms of the depth of our relationships with other people.
John Milton observed, “Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good.” We mentioned that last week also – how in the garden of Eden, surrounded by perfection and paradise, and where there was yet no sin – God looked at Adam and recognized that it was not good for him to be alone. And remember, Adam even had direct, personal contact with God, and yet God recognized that Adam needed something else. He needed to be in relationship with others.
You and I have that same need – to be in deep, personal relationships with one another that are safe, that are intimate, where we can love and be loved deeply. Where we can be ourselves without pretending. The “family groups” which Sue talked about earlier are the way we have strongly felt God leading us as a church to see those needs met. And so I want to invite you to make a decision to be a part of “Experiencing Biblical Community” – to be a part of a place where you can love and be loved deeply.
One of the best examples of community in Scripture is the early church, so throughout the fall we are going walk together through the first nine chapters of Acts, looking especially at how this fledgling group of believers in Jesus interacted together. Jesus left them a “new commandment” on the night of His crucifixion – to “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34); the first nine chapters in Acts describe how they did that. Let’s begin that journey this morning in Acts 1.
As you are turning to Acts 1 in your Bible, let me set the stage. The book of Acts is book 2 of Luke’s record of Jesus’ impact on our world. Book 1, the Gospel of Luke, describes all the things Jesus “began to do and to teach”, and this second book describes all the things Jesus continues to do and to teach, now through His disciples. Acts opens with Luke’s description of Jesus’ ascension to heaven, after promising the disciples again that the Holy Spirit will come in power and enable them to be effective witnesses to the truth that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God. That brings us to verse 12, where I would like to begin to read what happens next.
Experiencing Community – observation 1: they were together (vs 13):
I want to make three simple observations about Biblical Community from these verses. The first is from verse 13, and it is very simple: they were together. The disciples had spent the last 40 days learning more about the Kingdom of God from the resurrected Jesus, now they have seen Him ascend into heaven and they know they are not going to see Him physically like they have, and what do they do? They stay together. In fact, they were all living together in this upper room, which certainly could have been the upper room where they had eaten the last supper. Living together, in close quarters, is a great way of building community – I spent a lot of time in summers past at camp, sharing a tiny cabin with about 7 other people, and I can attest to this fact.