Summary: community isn’t an individual effort but a corporate plan
Ill) squeeze a bag of marbles together, and squeeze a bunch of grapes–talk about the different results. As community, we are the bunch of grapes. We learn these valuable lessons from this illustration.
We are not a community by ourselves.
We must be soft, tender, available, to be valuable in the community.
We don’t own the bag.
God does the squeezing, so to be in His community you must be committed, you must be submitted, you must be willing to give yourself fully to the cause of Christ.
We need what is squeezed out of you.
Community: Gathering of the Bunch
Intro: being married now for 21 years I actually know where the produce section is in the store. Not that I do a good job when I get there, but at least I know where it is at now. If I get potatoes, I generally get the ones that have a bad place on them, if I bring home apples, they are generally bruised up bad. And if I get grapes, I will definitely mess up and get green ones instead of red ones, or seeded instead of seedless. In the produce section I guess I am not blessed with much discernment. But there is one thing that everyone knows, they don’t sell grapes individually, they always come in bunches. Today, this is a picture of community, we come in bunches. The neat thing about the church, we are all bruised, we all come with some bad places, among the seedless there are still a lot of us with seeds. But with the love of God present, He has the wonderful ability to make something beautiful out of what is brought to Him.
I. We are not a community by ourselves–v.25 I counted the word, “ us” four times in these verses. Since the word us was stressed so much, it must have been important for us. You see you are not a community by yourself, even if you and Jesus have your own thing going. I have met a lot of people that have tried to be a community to themselves, an island for God, but generally the theology of one doesn’t work, and where there is no accountability there is error.
Evidently some Jewish believers had come into the faith but wanted to bring their ritualistic relationship to God into Christianity. But the church wasn’t built from one event to another, but it was built by a daily walk, a consistent lifestyle. Daily encouragement was needed during the early days of the church, and I believe we need encouragement as we see the day approaching.
II. We must be soft, tender, available to be valuable to community–you can squeeze marbles all day long but they will still be a bag of marbles. If the inside gets hard nothing good will be squeezed out. Religion hardens, Jesus marveled at the hardness of their hearts. Today, the ministry of community is to cause you to become softer, more tender in the hands of God. In an individualistic society the message is: I don’t need you, get out of my way. But in community we say, I need you, I need your prayers, your wisdom, your teaching, your help.
As we come together for prayer, time in the word, worship to the Lord, all these things are used to soften our hearts, so that we can produce something good in our lives.
III. We don’t own the bag–v.21 high priest over the house of God. As we look at our community, we realize that we don’t own it. As a pastor I always want people to commit themselves to community. I want them to take ownership, build a loyalty to community, to basically buy into the vision of the church. But in instilling ownership, it still must be stressed, you are still part of the bunch, never over it. I think Pastors, leaders in the church, must always keep this before them, they are given stewardship and responsibilities in the body of Christ, but Jesus will remain the head.
Whenever a group of people take control of the church, whenever man begins to build his own kingdom, it will fail. Unless the Lord builds the house.
IV. God does the squeezing–the motto of the community is no pain, no gain. If you join up with the community of Jesus Christ, there will be areas of your life that He will squeeze. If you only want to be a part of a comfortable bunch, join a golf club, join a fishing club, but don’t join into the family of God. Because God will want you to be your best, He will want to produce good things out of your life.
The mission of becoming a part of a community, is to become better for Christ. The ministry of every pastor is to build people up in the most holy faith, to equip them for the ministry.