Summary: Paul shares three important aspects of community
Intro: being a military brat growing up was a life on the move. For many the thought of re-location can be a scary proposition. Being in a Christian family made these transitions easier, because when you moved to a new base, there was always a church family waiting for you to arrive. Knowing that you would become part of a new community of believers was always something that lessened the anxiety about a move.
The Joy Of Community
Background: Paul writes this prison epistle from Rome and this is a very sentimental letter. Paul expresses a great attachment to these believers. Tonight we will look at three key verses that give us the reason to have joy in belonging to community.
I. Being in each other’s thoughts—v.3
Ill) A diary was found in a home of an elderly lady who had passed away. The odd thing about this diary, the same line was found for every day for the last years of her life. Each day she had written down, no one visited, no one called, no one cared.
· The joy of community is that people care about each other. Paul said, I have you in my thoughts. One of the great joys of belonging is to know that others have you on their minds. For us to be the church that really cares, a true community, everyone must become important to everyone.
· When someone misses a church service, the church organization can send them cards or give them calls. But for us to be true community, we must get to the place where people have each other on their minds, and make that connection real.
Ill) country music legend Willie Nelson sang a song that probably is one of his most famous ever. It simply says, you were always on my mind, you were always on my mind.
II. Being in each other’s hearts—v.7 the first level of community is the thinking of you stage. The next level is the, I have you in my heart stage. Paul says, not only do I think about you, but I have you in my heart.
· When there is brotherly love, people carry each other in their thoughts, when there is agape love, they will carry each other in their hearts. People will actually move to the place of loving each other, caring about each other.
· Now abides faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love. James gives us the thought that faith without action, faith without demonstration, faith without love is dead being alone. Community is a place where love is grown. Years ago I wrote a poem, and one line was my mom’s all time favorite line. It said, love is like a tender plant, that grows with loving care, if handled wrong, neglected long, it ceases to be there.
What is community, it is a place where people are not just concerned about their way, but the way of others.
Here’s a great way to illustrate community:
A story comes to us out of the long ago of a king who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men of the kingdom participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king’s palace. The race was run, and the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king’s palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard. Finally, all the runners had crossed the finish line except one. But still the king did not call the race off. After a while one lone runner came through the gate. He lifted a bleeding hand and said, "O King, I am sorry that I am so late. But you see, I found in the road a pile of rocks and stones, and it took me a while, and I wounded myself in removing them." Then he lifted the other hand, and in it was a bag. He said, "But, Great King, I found beneath the pile of rocks this bag of gold." The king said, "My son, you have won the race, for that one runs best who makes the way safer for those who follow."