Summary: Examining the core value of community. What it means to truly experience community among our church family.
One Sunday morning, early in the life of our church I asked the question, “What does the word value mean?” There were many responses that morning, but the one that I think most captured the true meaning of this word was, “Values are what make us who we are.” In other words, the things that we strongly value reveal the kind of person that we are. Our set of values is a summary of who we truly are. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Values are those things in our heart that guide us through life; the things we consider most important, and they are revealed by the way we interact with life through our words, attitudes, and actions. We get our set of values in different ways. Your parents have probably shaped your value system. It has likely also been shaped by teachers, peers, experiences, and society in general. Hopefully, each of us has a set of values, and hopefully that set of values has been shaped through love and truth. Without a set of values, we are like ships without a rudder that are simply carried in whatever direction the wind blows; never really knowing who we are, never really being known and understood by others.
As a church, we have a set of core values; five things that we believe are of supreme importance in living the Christian life. We’ve derived this set of values from scripture; for they are the same five things that were valued by the early believers after the birth of the church. Those five values are: Worship, community, outreach, discipleship, and stewardship. We can see all five of these values being clearly embraced by the early believers in the first 10 chapters of the book of Acts...and beyond. We’re devoting the next few weeks to talking about, understanding, and hopefully embracing each of these values as a body of believers. And today I want to begin by talking with you for a few minutes about the value of community.
The dictionary defines “community” this way: A unified body of individuals with a common character, with common interests, who share joint ownership and participation in something. As a church who embraces the value of community, we feel strongly that there has to be unity between us. We should all share a common character; one that reflects the character of Christ. Our common interests are these values that we’re discussing. And we should walk through life together sharing joint ownership of and participation in the mission that Christ has called us to accomplish; proclaiming the gospel and making disciples. This is the technical definition of what community is, but it is much richer and goes much deeper than that.
When you think of community, you may picture in your mind early pioneers crossing the countryside in a wagon train to establish a new town on the frontier. You may think of a small, tightly knit hometown where everyone knows everyone else. You may think of a bar where when you walk in, everybody knows your name. I was driving down the interstate Tuesday thinking about community and how I would communicate with you about this, and as I thought about community, oddly enough, this is the picture that came to my mind. ROLL GILLIGAN VIDEO
As a kid, I loved this show! I would jump off of the school bus, race across the yard, bolt through the door and down the hall to dump my books off on my bed, get back to the living room just in time to plop on the floor 12 inches away from the screen (yes mom, I know I’ll hurt my eyes that way) just as Gilligan’s Island would begin at 4:00 on KPLR channel 11. What a great show! Two weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and guess what I found? It was the episode where Gilligan hurt his nose, the professor was going to do plastic surgery on him to give him a new one, but it was all a hoax to make Gilligan think he had surgery so he would leave it alone and the nose could heal naturally. And I thought to myself, “What a stupid show!” As ridiculous as the storyline of each episode was, I see in this small community of seven castaways several clear illustrations of what the idea of community means to us as a church.
First, you have seven people from all over the country, all different backgrounds, with different life stories all somehow finding their way to this one harbor to board a ship together and share a common experience. The wealthy Howell’s from New York, sweet, innocent MaryAnn from Kansas, Movie-star Ginger from Hollywood. As I look across our congregation I see people from the south, people from the north, people from right here. I see children, teenagers, college students, twenty-somethings, singles, married couples, middle-agers. I see people from catholic backgrounds, all different varieties of protestants, people who’ve been in church their whole life, people who are experiencing church life for the first time right here. I see people who have had relatively smooth peaceful lives. I see people bearing the scars of devastating trauma. And here we are, all somehow brought together at this moment in time to share a journey together.