Summary: Playing on the archaic meaning of idiot (i.e. disconnected, idiosyncatic) I talk about how we are called in community.
Title: Christians aren’t idiots
Text: Daniel 2:12-19
MP: The intercession of Daniel’s friends brought about God’s intervention.
SO: I want to encourage the church to live in community with each other and visit each other.
One of the worst things about the English language is that too often we don’t really know how to use our own words. Data, for instance is plural. There is no such thing as one data point. Or, take the word corporate. When I say that, I suspect you’re thinking Enron or IBM or some other company. Well, originally it just used to mean any task undertaken together. You know, lot’s of people corporately coming together for a single purpose. It used to be that the *opposite* of corporate was an idiot [pause] – literally a solitary, singular guy who didn’t go in for the benefits of being part of the group. It used to be that an idiot was just somebody who stuck to himself – in an idiosyncratic way. You see, there are still hints of it.
But I’ll tell you the word that’s been messed up the most. And that’s the word ‘church.’ You probably know that a church is a group of people – it’s the corporate gathering of the body of Christ. But let’s face it: when you and think of church, we’re probably thinking of a building. The truth is it’s so easy to think of the church as a building because it’s easier for church to be a place than a way of life. It’s safer when it’s a building we go to once a week, more so than an attitude which defines our lives.
Well, that may be what we think, but it’s too limited. I fear that we may be in danger of losing our corporate notion of church. I think that Long Branch is better than most at understanding church as a people, but we can always do better. We do a pretty good job of visiting each other, caring for each other, praying with each other.
But even we have friends and neighbors and colleagues that need us. Too many isolated people are imprisoned voluntarily in the cells of their own homes, when what simply need most is the companionship and friendship of a God-breathed individual more interested in serving God than himself. Left to my own devices, there is no reason to look out for these people, other than the fact that God loves them.
We know that sick people gain strength from being visited. We know that even the most introverted of us need that human touch, that human contact. A TV is no replacement for a friend. We know that people live longer in community. But the world has no use for such people. Only a loving God who desires that all of his creation be cared for would or should ever bother taking the effort to make sure these people are in the community too. It is good for them, and it is good for us, even if it makes us go the extra mile to give them that call or to stop by.
Those of us who have been there for others know there is great reward, but it isn’t a reward that is easy to quantify. The reward of being visited is different from that of visiting. But you should experience both. If you’re lonely, the best cure is to get out and cheer up others. For two people to be alone is just wrong.
I grew up in a church where it was too easy to get lost. At the church I grew up in, you could fade into the crowd, you could stop coming, and no one would notice. No one would call and just ask, ‘How are you doing?’ Well, that’s a key part of church – we check up on each other, we lift each other up in the Lord, and we can always improve at that.
But I’d like to tell you that is more than just a church growth strategy. Oh, make no mistake – if a church wants to grow, there is nothing that can replace individual members individually bringing their friends and maintaining that one-on-one contact; but I’ll tell you this: It gets right to the heart of the Biblical message. It was the Biblical way of doing church long before church even existed as something we did.
Our God is a corporate God, not in the sense of being bureaucratic, but in the sense of togetherness that he desires for his people. We worship him in a community. It is a community centered on Jesus to be sure, but it is not, as we suppose, just a ‘Jesus and me’ thing. In our reading this morning, I’d like to point out something that, frankly seemed like a minor detail to me in our story of Daniel 2, but it’s a detail that shows up time and time again. As we read the text this morning, would you notice how centered on relationship this story is?