Summary: ME OR WE? – (Part 2) THE CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE SHOULD BE “WE” NOT “ME”.
✎ The year was 1630. The place was the Massachusetts Bay along the Atlantic coast near the place known as Plymouth Rock. On board the ship the Arabella John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company challenged the Puritan settlers to establish a new kind of Christian community. Winthrop said:
We must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection. . ., we must delight in each other, make others’ condition our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together. . ., our community as members of the same body, so shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us.
Winthrop knew that they were in this thing together; no one could go it alone.
This morning we continue a new series of messages called “ME OR WE?” Things have definitely changed over the years since the Puritans endeavored to build a Christian community. The prevailing attitude in American culture is “look out for # 1” or “what’s in it for me?”
Though we may not want to admit it, our culture has affected many of us within the church (I think it’s supposed to be the other way around, right?). An honest evaluation within the Christian community would show that we to live with the “ME-FIRST” mentality. We live a lifestyle of “ME-dependence” (that is, Independence with a capital “I”).
You can summarize this entire series of messages in one sentence: THE CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE SHOULD BE “WE” NOT “ME”.
This theme runs through out the Bible, but I’ve picked one verse as the foundation for this entire series; I hope we all memorize it, but more importantly I pray we all live it!
+ Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (NIV) – Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (MsgB)
This morning we are going to look at “THE SAINTS AND THE AIN’TS.”
+ Ephesians 3:17-18 17. . . And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (NIV)
+ Philippians 1:1 . . . To all the saints in Christ Jesus. . . (NIV)
Let’s start with something really simple. You and I are either one of the saints or we’re one of the ain’ts. Either we are recipients of Christ’s great love and are included “in Christ” or we have rejected God’s love displayed to man through Christ Jesus. Saints or ain’ts–it’s one or the other.
1. THE COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS–THE SAINTS.
As believers we share in a special relationship with one another through Christ called THE COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS.
What is the communion of the saints? Simply put the communion of the saints is the church, a community of believers united through their faith in Christ. Let’s unpack the communion of the saints a little more to understand what it means.
A. THE SAINTS–Who are the Saints?
The term saints does not refer to an elite or special class of Christians. Saints are not members of a “Spiritual Hall of Fame.”. Sainthood is not an award reserved for lifetime achievement, martyrs, pastors, evangelist, missionaries, or prayer warriors.
A saint is nothing more and nothing less than an ordinary believer. You and I, average everyday Christians, are saints. Regardless of how you may judge an individual’s spiritual condition, if they believe that Jesus died upon the cross for their sin, that God then raised Jesus back to life and if they confess Jesus as their Lord, then he or she is a saint.
Through out the New Testament believers were greeted as saints.
Paul writes to the Romans saying, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” ( Romans 1:7 NIV). To the Corinthians he writes, “To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia” (2 Cor. 1:1 NIV). He addresses the Ephesians saying, “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians. 1:1 NIV). Writing to the Philippians, Paul says, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.” (Philippians. 1:1 NIV). Do you get the idea that being a Christian makes you a saint?
B. SAINTS NOT SAINT
Through out the Bible you seldom see the word saint used in the singular; its normal usage is in the plural “saints.” The singular “saint” does not appear at all in the NIV. “Saint” is used only once in the New Testament in the KJV, and even there it refers to not one but all the saints.