Summary: The great thing about God is that He is communal. Even before time began He existed in three persons. God is not just a creator to us, He is a Father who seeks a relationships with us.
Glory of God SERIES
May 11, 2008
The Glory of God in Relationships
The Roman orator Cicero once said: “We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race.” Community is a part of who we are. There is a base need in the human condition for a certain degree of community. This community is found in fellowship through relationships with other people. You cannot have a community by yourself. In order to experience community you have to be with other people. At the same time, just being around other people does not create a community. When you go to Wal-Mart for groceries you are around a lot of people, but that is not exactly an intimate community. Community is more than just a state of being near or around other people. Community is found when a group of people share an intimate fellowship. Community is found in relationships.
This week we are looking at the Glory of God in His Relationships in His community. God is relational, He is communal. Even in His existence before the creation of the world, God has been a communal God. He has existed in three parts, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit while at the same time He is one. From before their was time God has had relationships because He is a relational God. God is three parts in harmony together. This is called the trinity. Though the word trinity is never used in Scripture, the idea is found in a number of Scriptures: Gen 1:26 “God says let US make man in OUR image” Matthew 3:16, and 1 Corinthians 12:4 also support this idea of a multi-parted relationship aspect of God. So what I want to talk about today is the Glory of God in His relationships. These relationships are best seen through His fellowship with His people. So what I want to do today is to show you a few different aspects of the relational aspect of God so we can see His glory through relationships.
While we are on the topic of fellowship, I have an important story to tell you. While I was at Ozark I took a speech class. Our professor was a guy we called Griff. He was a good teacher and a really fun person to talk to. One day in class he told us this story. It is a story that I will always remember. He was telling us about one of his experiences in ministries. He told us that the church he was at was having some issues. They were having people come and making decisions but people were not sticking around. The leadership determined that the problem was newcomers we not getting connected. They were not building relationships within the church and so they would be around for a little while and then go somewhere else. So the church decided to start up care groups in order to help people get to know each other. To launch these groups they decided to do a four week sermon series on the Acts 2 church. The last sermon was titled ‘devoted to fellowship’. Everything was planned out and organized. This was a very strategic approach. They were going to do a sermon on fellowship the same day that they would announce their small group plan.
On that final week of the series Griff did his sermon on ‘devoted to fellowship’. He talked about fellowship being much deeper than just a ‘hi, how are you’ kind of relationship. Doing some background study in the original language he told the congregation that fellowship came from a commitment or partnership to a joint cause, and was used Biblically to describe a marital intimacy, and also could sometimes be used to refer to intimacy in a sexual relationship. Here is where he got in to trouble. Trying to be cute, but without realizing that he had not given his audience the same transition that he had made just after establishing that fellowship was a description of sexual intimacy he stops and says: “by the way your minister loves fellowship”. The crowd laughed and he went on. He moved to the practical part of his sermon explaining that they were starting up small groups. He failed to realize that his audience had not shifted gears and were still on the idea of fellowship being sex. He had moved on…they had not. This is what he told us: His first statement “Why do you suppose people accept Christ and join our church and within a few months they are gone? It is because we don’t give them fellowship when they come." I noticed a few chuckles and thought, "they’re not with me this morning." I had no clue that my listeners had not moved beyond my identification of fellowship with sex. Then he made another statement: “People will not stay happy and contented when they are not getting regular, good fellowship.” Of course the people were laughing more now. He still had not realized it and was becoming very irritated. He thought they were carrying on their own conversations. He made a few more statements and the laughter continued. The last straw was when he said: “fellowship is best in small groups of 8 to 12”. After that it was all over. He prayed and cut the sermon short very angry, still not realizing that the church was associating all of these things with sex. Sometimes you have to be careful what you say. Griff found that for a long time…he could not use the word fellowship. That story made me happy about my decision to go to Ozark.