Summary: The meaning of relationship and community within the church.
“What It Means to be Church”
by: Rev. Ken Sauer
Grace United MEthodist Church, 9833 Hixson Pike, Soddy Daisy, TN www.gbgm-umc.org/grace-sdtn
Have you ever felt lonely, even when you are surrounded by a large crowd of people?
Have you ever moved to a new town or headed off to college or started a new job where you knew no one?
If so, you have probably experienced that unpleasant feeling we call loneliness.
Immediately following high school, I headed out to Santa Barbara, California to attend college.
My wife recently took a look at a beautiful picture of the place and said, “No wonder you wanted to live out there!”
Nevertheless, I was 3,000 miles from home, and this is where I came to know what loneliness is.
I only stayed at that school for a year before transferring to one closer to home.
Why do people become lonely?
Why is loneliness such an unhappy emotion?
Just think of some of the things persons do to try and solve the loneliness problem.
Children cave into peer pressure in order to fit-in with a group…any group of other kids…any group that will accept them no matter what they are doing, be it drugs or a whole host of other unhealthy behaviors…
…simply to fill-in the hole that loneliness causes…
…and in doing so, people find that they are quite capable of doing almost anything in order to eliminate loneliness.
I think our need for other people, for relationships, for community, for acceptance is what drives most of what we do.
And why is this?
Well, God made us this way.
In Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone…’” so He created another person.
We are not meant to be alone.
It’s not in our genetic make-up.
We cannot thrive in loneliness and isolation…we need other people…we need community.
And the sad part about all this is that there are oh, so many lonely people…living, working and going to school right next to us!
Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote a song about this:
“Ah, look at all the lonely people…
…All the lonely people where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”
It is not just our need for other
humans that cause us to feel isolated and alone.
It is also our need for God.
The 17th Century physicist/philosopher Pascal spoke of a “God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every [person]” which can only be filled by a relationship with God.
That’s why Jesus came to this earth…to restore the severed relationship between fallen humanity and God.
Before Jesus was arrested and crucified He assured His disciples: “I will not leave you as orphans…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth…
…on that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Jesus kept His Word, did He not?
For on the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit came.
And the disciples were emboldened, for they knew they were not alone.
And three thousand new converts joined the brand new Christian Church in one day!!!
Finally, there was a prescription for the “God-shaped void.”
There was an answer for “all the lonely people.”
Notice, from our Scripture Lesson for this morning, what the thread is which holds the new Christian Church together and enables it to thrive and grow.
The early Christians devoted themselves to the fellowship.
They studied together, they broke bread together, they prayed together.
They were all filled with awe together as they witnessed together the many wonders and miraculous signs.
They were all together and had everything in common.
They shared their material possessions together.
They worshipped together…continuing to meet together in the temple courts.
They ate in one another’s homes together.
They praised God together; they shared their lives together, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Now isn’t that the kind of church you would like to join?
That’s what it means to be church, is it not?
And I have no doubt that this model we are given in Acts Chapter 2 can be duplicated right here at Grace United Methodist Church in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee in the 21st Century!!!
Because the needs of people are the same.
The Holy Spirit is still present, and God’s desire for us is that we will be in community, one with another in the name of Christ!
No. We are not meant to be alone.
How many times have you heard someone say: “You can be a Christian without going to church?”
That would not have even been thought of as a possibility by the early Church.