Summary: A sermon about "being" the Church.
Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37
“It Can Be This Good”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN 37412
In the movie As Good as It Gets Jack Nickolson plays the part of Melvin Udall, a very lonely, cranky and most unhappy man.
In one scene, Melvin angrily stomps out of his doctor’s office into a waiting room filled with depressed and lonely psychiatric patients.
Stopping to make eye-contact with the group and with a devilish sneer, Melvin asks the group, “What if this is as good as it gets?”
Have you ever felt lonely, even when you are surrounded by a large crowd of people?
Have you ever moved to a new town or headed off to college or started a new job where you knew no one?
If so, you have probably experienced that unpleasant feeling we call loneliness.
Why do people become lonely?
Why is loneliness such an unhappy emotion?
Just think of some of the things persons do to try and solve the loneliness problem.
Children cave into peer pressure in order to fit-in with a group…
…any group of other kids…
…any group that will accept them no matter what that group is doing, be it drugs or a whole host of other unhealthy behaviors…
…simply to fill-in the hole that loneliness causes…
…and in doing so, people find that they are quite capable of doing almost anything in order to eliminate loneliness.
For many, our need for other people, for relationships, for community, for acceptance is what drives much of what we do.
And why is this?
In Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone…’” so God created another person.
It’s not in our genetic make-up to be alone.
We need other people; we need community.
And the sad part about all this is that there are oh, so many lonely people living, working and going to school right next to us!
Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote a song about this:
“Ah, look at all the lonely people…
…All the lonely people where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”
It is not just our need for other
humans that causes us to feel isolated and alone.
It is also our need for God.
The 17th Century physicist/philosopher Pascal spoke of a “God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every [person]” which can only be filled by a relationship with God.
That’s why Jesus came to this earth…to restore the severed relationship between fallen humanity and God.
Before Jesus was arrested and crucified He assured His disciples: “I will not leave you as orphans…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth…on that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Jesus kept His Word, did He not?
For on the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit came.
And the disciples were emboldened, for they knew they were not alone.
And three thousand new converts joined the brand new Christian Church in one day!!!
Finally, there was a prescription for the “God-shaped void.”
There was an answer for “all the lonely people.”
Notice, from our Scripture Lesson for this morning, that there is a thread which goes to the very core of what it means to be Christian.
They studied together, they broke bread together, they prayed together.
They were all filled with awe together as they witnessed together the many wonders and miraculous signs.
They were all together and had everything in common.
They shared their material possessions together.
They worshipped together…continuing to meet together in the temple courts.
They ate in one another’s homes together.
They praised God together; they shared their lives together,
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Christianity is about being together with God and with other human beings.
Christianity has always been about relationships.
How many times have you heard someone say: “I can be a Christian without going to church?”
That would not have even been thought of as a possibility by the early Church.
A young man who was fed up with church went to see a wise Christian to get some advice.
As they sat in front of a fire, he told him all the things that were bothering him about church, and how he felt he would be better off without it.
As he was speaking, the wise Christian silently took the fire tongs and removed a red-hot glowing coal from the middle of the fire and set it on the hearth.
The coal glowed for a while, but eventually dimmed and turned black.