Summary: The sermon is meant to encourage people to become involved in our Small Group Ministry.
1. Quiet Desperation of Loneliness
Sophie and Shirley, two elderly widows in a Florida adult community, are curious about the latest arrival in their building -- a quiet, nice looking gentleman who keeps to himself.
Shirley says, "Sophie, you know I’m shy. Why don’t you go over to him at the pool and find out a little about him. He looks so lonely."
Sophie agrees, and later that day at the pool, she walks up to him and says, "Excuse me, mister. I hope I’m not prying, but my friend and I were wondering why you looked so lonely."
"Of course I’m lonely, he says, "I’ve spent the past 20 years in prison."
"You’re kidding! What for?"
"For killing my third wife. I strangled her."
"What happened to your second wife?"
"I shot her."
"And, if I may ask, your first wife?"
"We had a fight and she fell off a bridge."
"Oh my," says Sophie. Then turning to her friend on the other side of the pool, she yells,
"You’re never going to believe this, Shirley. He’s single."
Have you ever been so hungry for a friend that you made a poor decision? Believe it or not, like it or not our need for friends is one of our most urgent needs. Sometimes the need overwhelms us so much that we are willing to do anything to feel loved, from going home with a stranger to striking up conversations with telemarketers. We live in an increasingly isolating society and we are willing to do almost anything to not feel lonely.
Today Show, December 27, 2016: Match.com Scam: Believing in long-distance love, Betty Davies fell victim to a romance scam on Match.com. Davies wired a “love interest” scammer her life savings, a whopping $270,000, which left her with nothing. She thought the person with whom she was corresponding was legitimately interested in her. She believed his phony stories and financial requests in spite of something telling her it was a scam until she had given him all of her savings.
Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Sometimes it appears that we will do anything to feel accepted. As Americans we are among the loneliest people in the world. As a culture we are radically much different than we were a generation ago or even a decade ago. ATM machines allow us to do our banking without talking to anyone. In fact most banks have the option of convenience with online Internet banking. Incredibly convenient but there is a loss of personal touch.
Walk into almost any large store and they provide you with the option of self check-out system. Or gas up at the station by paying at the pump. Social Media; Internet Payments
Over the past few decades we have become more isolationist as a society. Sure things have gotten more convenient but many Americans say that it has also gotten lonelier.
2. Author and preacher, Randy Frazee writes “isolation is the second major obstacle to connecting in true community.” He says this flows out of the first main obstacle which is “a culture of individualism” which breeds the sickness of loneliness.
3. God knew our universal need for encouragement and friendship – Acts 2.42-47
a. It is possible for a group of people to commit themselves to the bible but not be a community (an “edah” – Matthew 16.18). It is also possible for a group of people to experience community without being biblical. The trick is to put the two together and become a “Biblical community of believers in Jesus.”
b. This is a service our church can provide for one another and our society – a place to find genuine friendship and encouragement based on the life of Jesus.
4. Jesus initiated his kingship in this world through a small group of 12/120/3000/++++
I. Friendship/Fellowship is in Our Nature – Genesis 2.18
A. God was there but Adam Needed More
1. God created his companion
2. God established the first small group – family
[First command to Adam and Eve
B. God is in Our Midst but We Need More
1. Church is Family
2. God has Chosen to Partner with People in his mission (Acts 2.43 – via apostles, not just happening by God alone)
II. Friendship/Fellowship is for Our Nurture – Acts 2.42-47
Devoted to: Teaching – Fellowship – Breaking Bread – The Prayer
Seen in verses like:
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
2 Corinthians 13:11 Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.