Summary: God's case has 3 basic ideas (Outline and material adapted from Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson's book, Building a Church of Small Groups, Chapter 1, In the Beginning, God: The Theological Evidence)
In his book, “Imagine Your Life Without Fear” Max Lucado gives some significant insight when he says,"Questions can make hermits out of us, driving us into hiding. Yet the cave has no answers. Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess and pray, Christ speaks."
This morning we looked at the need for community from humanity’s perspective. This evening we will look at community from God’s perspective.
Thesis: God’s case has 3 basic ideas
1. The Godhead, the Trinity
Godhead is best described by the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy- God in 3 persons, blessed Trinity
What does this have to do with fellowship, with community? All 3 involved in creation:
1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1, NIV.
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:2, NIV.
“Through him (the Word) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:3, NIV.
When God came to make man this is what he said: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...”” Genesis 1:26, NIV. To whom is God talking? Is God talking to himself? In a way. All of this demonstrates the relationships in the Godhead.
The Godhead comes to a consensus to create humans in His image. It is not enough to say God is interested in community. God, rightly defined and understood, is community. The doctrine of the Godhead is extremely complex and but this has implications for the importance of community. Since God himself lives and works in community and since we are created in God’s image, then we too are created in and for community.
In God there is the identity of the One, and yet there are Three in One. There is individuality in the Godhead. God exists in community. This picture of the Oneness of God should shatter our independence.
Let’s dig deeper into this statement, “Let us make man in our image.” What does this mean?
This means that humans have eternal souls in contrast to the animals. This is true and part of what is being said but not exactly.
Sure God gave humans a soul that distinguishes us from plants, animals, and other created beings. But He did more. God chose to give to us a distinct kind of relational DNA. God created us all with a “community gene,” an essential part of what it means to be a human.
All people have a great hunger for togetherness. If we treat this hunger as unimportant, we deny a big part of how we were created. When the church understands this, we validate the nature of the God whose image we bear. We need to work with the grain and not against it. We are created in God’s image; therefore, we are created for community.
Jesus and community
Notice how Jesus conducted his ministry: Always started with prayer, then moved into community and then ministry. Let’s talk about Jesus and community. We see Jesus having several levels of community:
At the first level, Jesus fed and preached to thousands. “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another...” Luke 12:1, NIV.
Jesus worked with hundreds- “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)” Acts 1:15, NIV.
Jesus sent 72 (or 70) for a special mission.
Notice that Jesus zeroed in on 12 men. “He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” Mark 3:14, NIV. Jesus spent a large amount of his time with these 12.
Even deeper a group of 3. Jesus had special friends- Peter, James and John.
Sociologists have found this to be true. Called the Dunbar numbers (proposed by a person named Dunbar) and they are similar to the numbers we have just gone over. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, we’d invite to a large party. The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people we’d invite to a group dinner. We see them often, but not so much that we consider them to be true friends. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that we can turn to for sympathy when we need it, the ones we can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is our close support group. These are our best friends.