Summary: Adapted sermon of Rick Warren on the need for being in true Biblical fellowship with one another.
Today, we are beginning the third week of our 40 Days of Community, that’s day 15 for those who are doing the daily devotions. We are continuing to explore what God’s purpose is for us here on earth, which we have said is to love Him, and love others the way he does. That’s what we are here for. It isn’t happiness, pleasure, success, or power, it isn’t possessions, it is our relationships, and how we love. When we talk about love, we are not talking about an emotion or a feeling, warm fuzzies, but about a choice. Those in our small groups heard Rick Warren share that "love produces feelings, but it isn’t a feeling." To love means we make the choice to care about someone else, we choose to unselfishly look out for the needs of others ahead of our own (Phil. 2:2-4). God sets the standard for love because the Bible says "God is love" (1 Jo. 4:8, 16). He loves every person on the planet and he demonstrated his love by sending his Son to die for our sake (Rom 5:8). Love is a verb, it is what we do, not a feeling.
1) I Need Close Christian Relationships in Order to Learn Love
You don’t grow in love for others just by reading a book, you learn through practice, doing it. We learn how to love, by being in relationship with each other. We need to connect with other Christians. If a Christian decides to live like a hermit out in the middle of nowhere and then says, I love others, I’m sorry he’s deceived himself. He doesn’t love because his love has never been tested. It’s like saying I’m a great race car driver without ever having been behind the wheel of a car. It might be true in your mind, but it ain’t true until you act upon it. In order to learn love, we need to practice, get behind the wheel so to speak, we need other people to love; irritating, imperfect, frustrating people. It’s like learning patience, you can’t learn patience without having something to test your patience, right? It’s how we grow. I’ve heard some of you say, "I quit praying for patience because I didn’t want God to give me something to be patient about." It’s similar with learning love, we need to be around other people to love. We need community, we need relationships in order to practice. So God has given us a spiritual family, a church, so we can learn how to love each other. Why a church family? Because whether you like it or not we are going to be loving these people for a very...long...time so God wants us to begin practicing right now.
When someone says to me, "I don’t need a church, I don’t need other Christians, I have my own beliefs," I know I am in the presence of a person who, first of all, is not being obedient to God, and therefore not loving God because God said those who love him will obey him (John 14:15, 23-24). Second, they aren’t learning God’s basic purpose for their life by loving their brother and sister in Christ. They are not doing what God has placed them on this earth to do. The Bible says you can have all the right beliefs and doctrine, you can have faith which moves mountains, you can be generous and give all your money to the poor or charitable causes, but if you haven’t learned how to love others your life is a waste (1 Cor. 13:1-3). God expects us to love others, beginning with our brothers and sisters in Christ.