Summary: God’s people build community as they show their care for others.
Title: Who Cares?
Truth: God’s people build community as they show their care for others.
Aim: To encourage showing care for others.
Life Question: How can I help build a caring community?
Robert Henry went to a large discount store one evening to buy a pair of binoculars. As he walked up to the counter he noticed he was the only customer in the area. Behind the counter were two salespersons. One was talking on the phone and refused to acknowledge him. The other was at the end of the counter, unloading merchandise.
Robert became very impatient and walked to the end of the counter where the salesperson was and asked for help. She said, “You got a number?” “I got a what?” asked Robert. “You got a number? You gotta have a number.”
Robert replied, “Lady, I’m the only customer in the store! I don’t need a number. Can’t you see how ridiculous this is?” But the lady insisted Robert take a number before agreeing to wait on him. It was obvious she was more interested in following certain procedures or rules than helping a customer.
So Robert took a number from the machine. It was number 37. He walked back to the lady. The saleslady looked at her number counter, which revealed the last customer who had been waited on was number 34. She called out, “Number 35…number 36…number 37.” Robert said, “I’m number 37.” “May I help you?” asked the lady without cracking a smile. “No,” said Robert as he turned and walked away.
I wish I could say that kind of senseless insensitivity and lack of concern for the customer was only limited to the business community. It is not. Once I received a call from a frequent attender to our church. He was upset that we had failed to minister to a recent widow. He was misinformed. I gave him the names of three people I knew had stopped by her home shortly after her loss to show concern. It made no difference to him. He stopped attending our church. It did make me wonder how many times we had been guilty of neglecting others. As a result I began to inform and involve our deacons and Sunday school classes more in the care of our members.
I want to speak to you about the building blocks of community. Community is one of our core values at Northeast. What do we mean by community? At Northeast we define community as “imperfect people sharing life together.” When we hear the word community, we think of a neighborhood or even a town. However, the word also can refer to a group of people bound together by common interests, values, or goals. That sounds like our church.
One of the biggest contributors to our happiness or sadness, our growth or decline is related to the people we are around. We will focus on four necessary elements for developing true community. To build healthy community in our church and home we will need to take the risk to care for others, trust others, invest some of ourselves in others, and be open and honest in communication. Whatever builds community, builds us. This morning we will talk about caring for one another.
How can we help build a caring community?
I. PRACTICE HOSPITALITY (1 PETER 4:9-10)
1 Peter 4 speaks about Christian conduct when suffering unjustly. God’s will, according to verse 19, is to trust God and to continue to do good. In verses 9-10 Peter encourages Christians to continue to do two things essential to community: show hospitality and use spiritual gifts for others. He writes:
“(9) Be hospitable to one another without complaining. (10) Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.”
Hospitality translates a word that means to “love strangers.” For many new converts when they broke away from the old crowd, they often lost family, friends, and even jobs. They needed someone to warmly receive them at their time of loss. Traveling missionaries were dependent on Christians opening their home to them to stay. The lodges and inns of that day were often dangerous or dens of sin. Jesus taught in Matthew 25:35 and 38 that those who welcomed fellow Christians who were strangers welcomed Him.
This was just as risky and costly in that day as today. There were people who learned of this practice by Christians and took advantage of it in sinful ways. Some lazy Christians overstayed their welcome. Obviously people voiced negative reactions to this abuse. This is why Peter added “…without complaining.” Hospitality was one of the key building blocks in the first century which tied the churches together through this mutual service and provided a means of communication among them; it is still crucial today for building community. Hospitality is the single greatest action a church can take to make new converts and newcomers welcome.