Summary: In an age of social isolationism and disengagement from the body of Christ, the Lord is calling us to be a community of believers again.
Our Absolute Need for One Another
Acts 2: 42-47
“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
The First Century church was devoted to four things:
1. The apostle’s teaching – sound doctrine in a confusing world.
2. The fellowship – partnership, participation, to share and communicate with others.
3. Breaking of bread – less formal times of friendship, eating, laughing, & relationships.
4. Prayer – the source of their power.
Why do people who come to church never become a part of the community of Christ?
1. There is a social trend of isolationism and disengagement.
· Sociologists say research shows Americans are participating less in social activities. They are reading less newspapers, attending less political meetings, signing fewer petitions, writing fewer letters to the editors, attending fewer club meetings, entertaining less friends at their home, attending fewer church services and giving less blood.
· Older generations (those born before 1945) are much more likely to be civically engaged than baby boomers or their offspring.
· 50% of men do not have anyone they call a best friend.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves …”
2. The church has suffered from the “older son” syndrome.
Luke 15: 29-30
“But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”
· He did not call him “brother”.
· He had a selfish focus
· He focused solely on his brother’s past failures.
· The church’s mission is not to kill the weak and wounded.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Why is it so important for me to be a part the community of Christ?
1. The community protects its members from outside threats.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
· The most vulnerable members of any herd, flock or family are those who have strayed or have been left behind.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
2. The community is your primary source of encouragement, support and accountability.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”
· Our culture has produced multiple generations of consumers who view the church as a commodity they can consume and not a place where they should invest themselves.
· Less than one out of every seven adults is currently in any type of serious spiritual accountability relationship. (Barna)
3. The community needs you and your gifts in order to operate effectively.
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
· If someone does not experience fellowship and community in the church, has that person experienced the heartbeat of Christianity?