Sunday, 04 January 2015 00:00

Community Matters: "It's a Way of Life"

Acts 2:42-47 (NASB)

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

EBC CommunityMatters SeriesGraphic4 72dpiEvery now and then I will step aside from a series in order to address an important issue. I've done it before when major events have occurred, or when special holidays arrive, and on a few occasions, like this one, when I feel there is a need in our church so pressing, that we need to address it corporately. For the next four Sundays (January 4, 11, 18, 25) we are going to set aside our study in Luke and focus on the subject of community in a series called "Community Matters." Why is this a need of Emmanuel?

  1. A working definition of community
    You'll never understand why we need community until you know what community is. It sounds like a religious word, but in reality, it is an everday word. Community represents life at its best. Take for example, when you drive down a road and you come to a community. You see life. You see light. You see community! Community is hard to define because "It is what it is based upon what it does."
    1. The etymology of community ... It comes from the Latin. The prefix "com" signifies "with, together, or in conjunction." Removing the "com" from the Latin, leaves you with munis, which is derived from munire, meaning "to fortify, strength, or defend."
    2. The examples of community ... seen in a city of people, or a camp of soldiers, or a collection of like-minded hobbyists. Folks join together to strengthen one another for a common purpose. In a city, it is civilization. In a camp of soldiers, it is victory over the enemy. In a collection of like-minded people it is strengthening one another and encouragement.

      DEFINITION: Community is people joining together to strengthen one another for a common purpose.
    Our purpose is to love God. It's the greatest commandment. You only love God when you know He first loved you. (Turn to Ephesians 3:14-21). Loving God. Strengthening people. That's our mission.
  2. A biblical description of community
    (Read Acts 2:42-47). In this text we see that there was a community in the early church. They joined together to strengthen one another in the common purpose of loving Jesus. So let's look at how their lives were described:
    1. There is a connection to life - "and all those who had believed were together" (v.44).
      The common thread in all of them was Jesus. They were believing together in Him.
    2. There is a protection of life - "they were sharing ... as anyone might have need" (v.45).
      They took it upon themselves to identify the need, and shared what it took to meet that need.
    3. There is an action from life - "they were praising God and having favor with all" (v.47).
      Praise came naturally from their number" (v.47). What is the sign of life? Replication.
  3. A practical difficulty with community
    Sin leads to death. Death is the absence of life. Sin brings estrangement and disconnection from life. Where there is sin (selfishness, pride, egoism, etc...), a church turns away from community. Maybe a better illustration is when a people come under attack, community tends to disappear. There is a withdrawal into isolation; a pulling down of the shades. We must be willing to enter the battle.

    Where there is no community?
    People are not connected to Jesus and to one another; it's every man for himself.
    People become exposed and there is vulnerability in terms of their spiritual life.
    People become apathetic and complacent; church becomes an organization, not a living organism.

 

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