Summary: Purposefully practice love and grace.
WE ARE NOW THE CHURCH
Th: Never the Same Again
Pr: PURPOSEFULLY PRACTICE LOVE AND GRACE.
?: How? How do we get it done?
TS: We will find in our study of Acts 4 four practices that enable us to show love and grace in our community.
CV: “We will purposefully practice being a community marked by love and grace.”
PA: How is the change to be observed?
• Be in authentic relationships.
• Live dependently.
• Let go of pride and forgive.
RMBC 21 September 08 AM
ILL Community (H)
The caption on the screen says…
“Visitors at Pine Point Church could sense cliquishness among the congregation, subtle though it was.”
Somehow, when we consider that cartoon, we know that is not the way it is supposed to be.
When a community of believers meets together, whether it is for worship or for ministry, we expect them to be…well…together.
The moment we become a follower of Jesus, we become a part of something larger.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are placed into the body of Christ.
We become a member of the Church.
And we are “never the same again.”
Now you know from your own experience that if your own body is not working together, it can be pretty awkward.
If you are like my son, Joel, and you have diabetes, you know what it is like to have a non-functioning pancreas.
Because one organ is not working and sugars are not processed correctly, it affects him a great deal.
If he does not take the proper amount of insulin, he can really become dysfunctional.
The same is true here.
When a portion of the body is not working correctly, it affects all of us.
I think it is fair to say, when it comes to our portion of the body of Christ…our church family here…we want to be working together.
To what kind of community do you want to belong?
I think we all want to belong to a community that cares.
We want to connect.
We want to belong.
We want our personhood affirmed and appreciated.
Brandon’s is a name and a story over which to pause. He died in the privacy of a chat room full of people who watched by web-cam as he killed himself with drugs and alcohol. Their conversation was disquieting, left behind in a hauntingly silent script. Voices cheered him to pass out on screen. Brandon responded with his phone number. "Call if I look dead," he said. But even after he passed out, they spoke as if he was something less than real. "He’s dead," said someone. "Happy trails," said another. "Should I call 911?" "No!" they agreed in unison.
After this tragedy, columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote in shock of Brandon’s story and what seemed to be the telltale signs of yet another failed community: the virtual community. The very community, he reminded, that we were promised at "the dawn of the Internet Age, the one that would link all humankind in brotherhood, sisterhood, enlightenment." Such connectedness clearly failed Brandon. Even if his friends would have stopped to call for help, they didn’t know his real name.
Here we live in this successfully linked world, but despair continues to exist.
We are living in a lonely world, in a very needy world, and the need for true community and meaningful connection still is heard and felt.
ILL Community (S)
When the diaries of the famed atheist, Madeline Murray O’Hare were auctioned off years ago, they found three times punctuated in her journals the words: "Will somebody somewhere please love me? Will somebody somewhere please love me?"
Let me tell you…we can do that!
We can be a community that is known for connectedness.
We can be a community that demonstrates care and concern.
We can be a community that makes relationships a top priority.
We do it when we…
PURPOSEFULLY PRACTICE LOVE AND GRACE.
But again, we are going to ask “how?”
How do we get it done?
We will find in our study of Acts 4 four practices that enable us to show love and grace in our community.
Let’s read Acts 4.32-35…
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.