Summary: A look at the church and what it means for us.
Created for Community
October 27, 2013
One of the most famous studies ever conducted on relationships was called the “Alameda County Study.” It was headed by a Harvard Social Scientist and it took place over a 9 year period. They tracked the lives of 7,000 Alameda County residents during this period. They found that the most isolated people were 3 times more likely to die than the most relationally connected people.
They discovered that people who had bad health habits, smoking, poor eating, obesity, alcohol use, and so on, BUT had strong relational connections lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits, BUT were isolated. In other words, they found it’s better to eat Twinkies with good friends, than to eat broccoli alone.
Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association took 276 volunteers and infected them with the virus that produces the common cold. In this study, they found that people who had deeper emotional connections, deeper relationships did 4 times better fighting off the illness, than those who are more isolated. Those who had deeper relationships were better able to fight off the colds and produced significant less virus than relationally unconnected subjects. It is literally true, unfriendly people are snottier than friendly people.
Now, I believe that studies like this simply confirm at a biological level what scripture told us a long time ago - - - “you were created for community.”
You were made for relational connectedness. You were designed by God to love and be loved — to know and be known — to serve and be served — to celebrate and be celebrated . . . and to miss out on this is to miss out one of the major reasons you were created. Whatever else you achieve and accomplish, however many toys you accumulate, you miss this and you miss out on one of the major reasons for living!
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I believe the church is the only hope for the world. Now, everything starts with a relationship with Jesus Christ. We must have that, but moving along with faith in Jesus, comes a need to be part of a community of believers in Jesus Christ. Our faith, and even our searching is what brings us together. If it weren’t for Jesus, we would not be here this morning and many of us would not have the friendships and relationships we have with one another.
I would like to read one of the great scriptures which shows community at its best. It comes in the form of the early church and is found in Acts 2. Listen to what Luke wrote about how the church was functioning ~
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. — Acts 2:42
Do you get a sense of how the early church was functioning? Now, I know our world is different than theirs, but we can learn from the way they did church. I don’t get a sense that there were worship wars. Nobody was complaining about what songs were being sung, were they too loud, contemporary, traditional or what? I don’t think they were overly concerned about what anyone wore to worship, or to someone else’s home? They were thrilled you were a believer and on their side, that you were a brother or sister in Christ.
They were awe struck at the miracles which were being performed. They were together, not just in worship, but in their beliefs and possessions. They were sharing their possessions, they weren’t concerned about who had what, they were more concerned at what they could give, not keep. They were filled with joy and gladness, there was not a shortage of supplies for anyone. And they worshiped and praised and served God, so much that others began to believe in Jesus through their love and grace and they were well received by the people around them.
Doesn’t that sound like a place you’d like to belong to. You can tell they definitely cared about one another, prayed for one another, read the Scriptures together! Sounds like a great place to be. And I believe the modern churches, like ours are supposed to move in a direction which seeks to emulate the attitude of the early church.