Summary: Part of a real Followers series
Real Followers Live in community, Acts 2:42-47
Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ
January 13, 2002
A "Ziggy" cartoon recently pictured the small, pudgy man, sitting alone in a boat, drifting toward a tunnel with the sign above, "Tunnel of Meaningful Relationships." Loneliness is a growing problem in our society. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the most lonely group in America are college students. That’s surprising! Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly.
Americans are amongst the loneliest people in the world.
I’m not talking just about divorce, we are a very mobile country.
Generally speaking you graduate from high school, move away from home for college, and then you move again for your job, and most people will switch jobs 2-3 times.
Now, there’s nothing inherently evil about this but it contributes to the loneliness in the United States, and you couple this with a high divorce rate in the country and that makes for some very lonely people.
Concert attendance has been slowly declining over the last 10 years, because people no longer want to go to concerts to get lost in a crowd.
But if you track another trend over the past 10 years you’ll see concerts down but coffee houses are up.
About a year ago the State Journal ran a piece on coffee houses check out this quote, "I come here because I like an atmosphere of busyness, I don’t like to feel like I’m alone."
One of the most watched episodes of any show this year was an episode of a show called "Friends."
A show that takes place in a coffeehouse, 5 or 6 friends in NYC just trying to make it and they spend time together.
One of the most popular shows of the 90’s was a show called Seinfeld, they said it was about nothing but it really was about a group of friends who hang out and talk about meaningless stuff.
We live in a society that is extremely lonely.
Some of you have experienced this feeling first hand and you have not wanted to complain for one reason or another
Some of youyou feel like you’re living in an endless game of keep-away.
There is an underlying sense of humiliation and shame and separation from other people.
As a country we are going to have to deal with this epidemic of loneliness.
I believe that real followers have the answers and we’re going to need to communicate those answers.
The world is definitely communicating their answers to the problem.
One solution that’s offered is to simply dull the pain of loneliness with destructive behavior (addictions and habits).
To point out how lonely people can be, Charles Swindoll mentioned an ad in a Kansas newspaper. It read, "I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00." Swindoll said, "Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving 10 to 20 calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship"
The other solution that’s offered is to get plugged in to a coffee house or bar and to simply hangout. I love hanging out, I love coffeehouses, I love having friends over to just be together. Being with friends and hanging out will satisfy a need in your life but it’s not the totality of the experience that God wants for you. God’s desire for you is to experience "community."
Real Community is "hanging out with a spiritual purpose." So, for instance, when you go bowling with some friends your hanging out (which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that), when you come to church this is worship.
But we also need to learn to come together for an individual spiritual purpose.
Larry Crabb, "Community matters."
That’s about like saying oxygen matters. Community is essential in a healthy Church. As our lungs require air, so our souls require what only community provides.
We are designed by God (who himself is a group of three persons living in profound relationship with each other) to live in relationship.
The best way you can tell if you experience community is by answering this question:
How often during the week do I get together with people with a spiritual purpose in mind?
We are physical beings so we need to take care of ourselves physically, we’re mental so we need to sharpen ourselves mentally, but we are also spiritual so it stands to reason that we should take care of ourselves spiritually.
You can experience community any number of ways at Farwell.
Sunday morning is one way (but, that’s more to satisfy worship part of spirituality). You can become involved in a ministry team. Or you can get involved in a small group, or mid week Bible study.