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Summary: A look at our need for true community in all of its glorious messiness.

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Dakota Community Church

January 06, 2008

Why Community? - I

We live in a very “individual” focused social order. It’s all about personal rights and freedoms, personal space, and let’s not forget personal relationship with God.

This church thing though is about something different altogether; in fact it is the direct opposite of all of those things. Instead of individual rights, the Church is supposed to be about self denial and sacrificial love, rather than personal space we are supposed to sharing with each one as he has need, remembering that we must love in truth and deed not in word alone, and rather than personal relationship, we are invited to be built together as living members of a single body.

Unfortunately none of that has stopped us, at least in North American, from importing our cultural norms and designing a “me first” version of Christianity that barely resembles the life and ministry of Jesus in any way.

What would you say is the central expression of the church in this generation? If I asked people on the street or even people in the pew to describe the function of a Christian church, what do you think the first thing mentioned would be?

In the Sunday Morning Preview e-mail I posed the question, “What makes a really great church great?”

Excellence in music and high tech presentation?

Great programming with something for everyone?

Multi-million dollar facilities?

World class communicators?

Why didn’t Jesus spend any time talking about these things that we have made into the central requirements we are looking for when we go shopping for a church?

1. Jesus did not come to establish “excellent” presentations.

Why community? - Because Jesus did not come to establish “excellent” presentations of the gospel. The presentation of the gospel, which can be done effectively one on one without any techno gadgets, is merely the opening line to the Christian faith. The real deal starts with what we do from there.

John 13:34-35

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

We make church about the service on Sunday because we don’t want the messiness that love requires. If we do what Jesus said to do, we quickly realize that our easy life is over.

Soren Kierkegaard Quote:

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

We have rebuilt the church into this beast that meets once or twice a week, which allows us to be “committed” Christians without ever becoming involved in the discomforts of relationship.

2. We need each other if we are to imitate Jesus.

Those who find themselves in positions of strength have a tendency to believe that they are somehow superior and that they do not really need the weak. The strong, because strength is so rewarded, so glorified, in our society, think everything they do for the weak is somehow truly great, when in fact in God’s eyes they have only what He has given them (Physical ability, mental aptitude, beauty, talent, inheritances, good genetics - whatever) and what they do with their strength is therefore entirely up to Him.

This idea of individual autonomy is not a kingdom of God concept, we need each other.

A.) The "haves" and the "have nots".

Read 1 Timothy 6:3-19

1Timothy 6:17-18

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

1 John 3:16-18

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

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