Building: Community 3/15

Building, Relationships, Kingdom, Community, Neighbor, Church, Together

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Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.

We were created for community. 

“Being a part of a community can make us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. It can give us opportunities to connect with people, to reach for our goals, and makes us feel safe and secure.

It’s important for every person to have a sense of community. A strong community can greatly benefit families and businesses in a variety of ways. In an age where technology both connects us and separates us, a local community can greatly benefit our well being and can increase our contentment in day-to-day life. As we get older, it can sometimes get harder to connect with the people around us. But, that connection will ultimately ease stress and feelings of loneliness.

As a part of a strong community, we are a part of a group of people who want to help each other, whether that is socially or professionally. What makes a community strong is its unanimity towards a common goal.” – Dunmore Borough Council

We do live in a time where technology both connects and separates us, we can communicate with just about anyone we want at any given time and yet many of us are lonely. In fact, Scientific American said, “47% of the people in this country feel alone, left out, and lacking in meaningful connection with others. This is true for all ages, from teenagers to older adults,” the article goes on to say that, “Loneliness has been estimated to shorten a person’s life by 15 years, equivalent in impact to being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes per day. A recent study revealed a surprising association between loneliness and cancer mortality risk, pointing to the role loneliness plays in cancer’s course, including responsiveness to treatments.” 

In another study it was said that loneliness and social isolation leads to increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks, and feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism and thoughts of suicide. Where does the need for community come from? Why is it so important to us as individuals?

In Genesis 1:26 we read, “Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness.” One of the oldest and most cherished doctrines of historic Christian theology is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Nicene Creed written in the Year of our Lord 325 (AD) summarizes the Trinity this way:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father…. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.”

The Trinity means that God himself is in community. More accurately, God is community: one God, three persons. Before any created thing, before any sort of human community, there was God, dwelling in perfect, loving harmony in His Triune being.  Larry Crabb in his book, Connecting, describes the Trinity in community as One: the type of community that we were created to be a part of and what we long for as human beings

Since we were created in His image, we were created for community. To be in community not only with one another, but with God. The first “not good” in the biblical account of creation was when God said “It is not good for man to be alone”. We were created to be in community, first with God and, second, with one another.

As you read through the account of creation you will not read anywhere of God being overbearing and emphasizing how great He is and telling His creation how insignificant they were. There is no sense of a King ruling over a servant. Instead we see a God who so loves mankind that he gives them a paradise to live in, gives them authority over all creation, grants them freedom (with that one restriction), and then He wants to be in community with them spending (investing?) time with them in the cool of the Day. And there is nothing written that can persuade me to believe that this did not happen every day.

Due to the lie believed and the rebellion of our fore-parents, we lost that community with God. Deprived of that relationship, we went our own way, became depraved and lost in sin, that is, until Jesus Christ 

We bear the image of God. Humanity was created to be in community with God and our neighbors. Since we are created in the image of God, our longing for community is deeply rooted in our makeup; in who we are as human beings. Jesus came so that we could be reconciled with God and, again, enter into that community. Which is why Jesus is building His Church and we are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation: to call those lost to the World and the enemy’s lies back to community with God and His people. 

Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2

But there is a problem… We together are the Church, we are to serve as ambassadors of reconciliation and as ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom. Our buildings were, and are, the Embassies of the Kingdom of God to the World. And to the world, our buildings once represented hope and safety and an opportunity for new beginnings. We as a royal priesthood and a holy nation bridged the gap between God and the World. 

Bridge, Church, Community

In 1930, a Japanese engineering firm worked with the Honduran government to build the Choluteca Bridge. It was a state-of-the-art, much-needed access point for the people of the Honduras, built to withstand the high winds and hurricanes that plagued the region. Then in 1998, the unthinkable happened. A tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea turned into a brutal category 5 hurricane hit and Honduras was decimated—but, just as intended, the Choluteca Bridge stood strong. However, something very strange and unexpected happened that changed everything: The river moved and the bridge suddenly lead from nothing to nowhere.” – Tami Rubino 

In by-gone days that was pretty easy to be witnesses and ambassadors as people flowed into the church, found connections with the Church, built relationships, and in doing those things, became a part of the local Church. But then there was a cultural shift, not a sudden storm, but a drifting, the church building was not longer the center of the community, the flow of people were no longer centered on the Local Church but somewhere else.  Because it was not a sudden storm we didn’t notice. The church stayed where it was, doing as it had always done, having classes and doing things in their buildings. But those buildings started to empty and no one noticed, a family here, a person there. 

The World changed, prayer and God’s word were no longer welcome in our schools, then in public settings, and now they seek to stop us from leading others to Christ and we find ourselves in enemy territory. Our buildings are no longer the place to meet your neighbor, your shop-keeper, or your Doctor. The world changed and we did not meet that change. We no longer are able to reach the lost as we once did. They don’t come to us. In fact most church buildings sit empty except for a couple hours on Sundays devoid of life and not fulfilling the purpose for which they were built: no longer bridging the gap… people no longer seek God and His church in times of trouble.

If we want to build community, have the community we were created for, and fulfill our calling as ambassadors, we must span the gap between the world and God and be the Church. But that is for next week. Our Next Step is to pray. And today we have much to pray about and for our country, our communities, and our neighbor.

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

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