Summary: Revealing the power and potential in Biblcial community.
The Culture of Community 12-17-06
Series: Creating a New Culture…in the church. John 17:20-21
I am indebted to John Burke’s book, “No Perfect People Allowed” for many of the basic ideas expressed in this series. It’s a great read!
Intro. Have you ever wondered why Sitcoms seem to have such a powerful impact on our culture? Why do we love them so much? Why do we continuing watching the reruns even when we can quote our favorite characters line by line? It’s because every great sitcom has one thing in common…they have a strong sense of community. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Friends, Seinfeld, Home Improvement, That 70’s show or The King of Queens. In every show these imaginary characters have a place where they belong, a community that loves and accepts them, no matter how wacky their lifestyles may have been. It is that same innate desire for love and acceptance in each of our lives that drives us to find a place of community. Think about it – we search for community in all kinds of places. Service clubs, chat rooms, sports teams, community centers, book clubs and support groups of every kind and description. Now there’s nothing wrong with any of these things…except the fact that they’ll never be able to satisfy what we truly long for…and that is unconditional love and acceptance. You see that kind of community is found in only one place on earth – in a fully functioning church. And therein lies our dilemma. While the world is searching for something that only the church can provide, the church seems clueless about the power and the life-changing potential of biblical community. We’ve somehow forgotten that community is what makes the church healthy, growing and distinctive from every other organization. We must remember that we have what the world needs. But if we’re not completely convinced of that, then our church will never be able to offer “real” community to the community we’re trying to reach. That’s why I want us to concentrate this morning and do one simple thing. Let’s see if we can figure out, Why community is so important?
It’s important because,
I. We all have a need for it.
There’s a practical necessity in every life to have a sense of belonging to a group that’s bigger and more important than self. Someone once said, “There’s no better way to dismantle a personality than to isolate it.” (Princess of Wales) In other words, being alone causes all kinds of personal problems. Have you ever noticed how the bible begins with this often-repeated phrase, “And God saw that it was good”? When God created light, he said it was good. When he created the heavens and the earth – all’s good! When God created the fish, the birds, and every kind of animal, guess what he said? It’s all good! Then God created man after his own image and He stood back and said, “It’s all good…except for one thing. It is not good for man to be alone! So he created woman.” Now here’s the essence of what God said – you and I were created for community, we need each other. We don’t life very well when we’re alone.
It seems like every prison authority understands the power of isolation. That’s why solitary confinement is so despised by prisoners. Recent studies show the effects of isolation to be horrendous. Extended periods of solitary caused depression, despair, anxiety, rage, claustrophobia, hallucinations, impaired vision, lose of hearing, ringing in the ears, and weakening of the immune system. Prisoners of war know that “solitary confinement” can even cause a strong man to break under the pressure, to lose all hope and perhaps even die. Now why is that? Because God has created us for community, which means we need each other, physically, spiritually, socially and emotionally.
In his book, “A Generation Alone” William Mehedy writes about his experiences with the college students he studied. He says, “The percentages of young people who have endured traumas of abandonment and isolation due to divorce, psychological or sexual abuse as children, rape, overexposure to media violence and sexual exploitation has caused them to exhibit the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” His conclusion is, “I can find no other explanation for the widespread problems with stability, self-image, feelings of emptiness, depression, suicidal thinking, fear of the future, and lack of hope among the young.”
The community found in the church is the only hope for generations who feel abandoned. Some of you here today feel abandoned by your parents because they suffered a divorce or they worked 80 hrs a week trying to give you every bell and whistle our culture demands. Some feel abandoned by their teachers because they no longer have the authority to discipline when necessary or teach the values you missed at home. And others of you think the church has abandoned you because you feel either judged or ignored every time you walk through those doors. The natural outcome of this sense of abandonment is loneliness; it’s a feeling of disconnection. That’s why so many people in our world today feel like they just don’t belong…anywhere to anybody.