Summary: We as Christians are at our best when we are personally growing in our intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders. (Special thanks to North Point Community Church for the 3 Vital Relationships concept.)
We are in week two of our vital relationships series. In week one we talked about our relationship with God. We talked about the importance of time—nothing can replace time with God—any truly healthy relationship that we have, is that way because of the time we have invested in it. We also talked about the idea of serving others. Jesus said that when we serve others we are serving Him—showing kindness and care toward the ‘least of these’ connects us to God in a profound way.
This morning I want to talk about community with those inside the church—your church family. Why is this relationship important and how do we develop it?
Illustration – Have any of you had the privilege of seeing the giant redwood trees of California? They are the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them are as much as 300 feet tall and more than 2,200 years old. You would think that trees that large would have a tremendous root system, reaching hundreds of feet into the earth, but that is not the case. Redwoods have a very shallow root system.
According to the Redwoods Institute…”The roots of a coast redwood are very shallow, growing only four to six feet deep, but spread out from the tree as far as 125 feet. This isn’t much support for a tall, heavy tree—Heavy rains and strong winds can bring even the biggest giant crashing to the ground.
But the roots of individual redwoods frequently grow intertwined with those of their neighbors. By "holding hands" underground, the roots form a network that allows the trees to withstand even great storms.”
With an interlocking root system they support each other; giving each other the strength to endure. The fact is, they desperately need one another to survive. So do we; that is the church—an interlocking root system designed to support one another! Therefore, God has given us His Church, which is the body of Christ here on earth.
When someone comes to faith through Jesus Christ, you become a part of the body of Christ. Through Christ we are bound together in a community of faith—both globally with all Christians worldwide, but more specifically with the church family you commit yourself to. Belonging to Christ means that we belong to each other. Fellowship with Christ means fellowship with each other. Through Christ, God has made us a family, a community of faith. This is our God-given ‘root system’ / support system.
The question is: what does that support system look like? Well in Acts 2 we have a picture of the level of commitment the early church had with each other…the type of support system they had developed. Let’s read Luke 2:44-47…
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47
Our passage this morning tells us that the very first community of believers gathered together on a regular basis for worship, prayer, study and fellowship. Acts 2:44 says, “All the believers were together…”
It wasn’t easy to follow Christ in the first century; Christ had been rejected, not only by the religious leaders, but the masses as well. Times were tough and persecution rampant. The early believers were bound together through fellowship; they created a sense of community. They needed each other; there was strength in numbers.
Though we certainly do not experience persecution like the early church did, it still isn’t easy for us to follow Christ and truly live for Him. We face: discouragement, temptation, apathy, failure, battles with materialism and compromise; pressures from unbelieving family and friends, rejection, doubts and unanswered questions. We face many obstacles in our desire to live for the Lord and too often we think we are alone in our struggle. But the truth is we all have our personal battles, but God has not left us on our own to run the race and fight the battles; He has given us each other.
A Community of Faith
A couple of verses previous to where we started this morning reveals to us the focus of this community of believers. Acts 2:42 says, They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
What united these people was their shared faith; they had entered into a relationship with Jesus and that is what gave them their common ground—just as it does today. No matter how diverse we are as a congregation, what unites us is our faith.