CONNECTING

27 Feb

perichoresis

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it or ever noticed but regardless of whatever I preach on, there is one thing I am always sure to include in every message…. the good news of Jesus Christ.  The good news that..
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. – John 3:16-17

I believe this is the main point of scripture and everything flows out of this central truth – – -God loves you, He sent His Son for you, He died for you, because He didn’t want to condemn you!! He wanted to save you!!

Yet, the sad fact is many people don’t live like that matters.  We don’t understand that Jesus did not just die so that we could escape Hell but also so that we might experience abundant life here on earth. I am not talking about a life without heartache but I am taking about a life with this amazing peace that nobody understands . I am talking about a constant Friend.

It breaks my heart that people don’t seem to understand all that Jesus has to offer. That for so many, church attendance is a sideline. Following Jesus is on a cursory level and nothing more.

We introduced a theme this year.. “Following Jesus: It’s Not  A Game!”

Our goal is to move people out of just occasionally talking about Jesus to being sold out to Him and consumed by Him.

So last week, in keeping with that idea, I began a series where I wanted to introduce the vision statement  of First Baptist Church of Lillian, Texas.

“Worship, Grow, Connect, Serve, Tell”

I introduced what worship was all about last week. That it is more than just a song. That it is in fact a verb and it is reflected everyday in how we serve Him… especially in willing to take care of the less fortunate.

So today, I want to talk about connecting with other believers.

I believe that the last part of Acts addresses adequately the law of connection. In fact, I believe this is the best scripture to describe what the early church looked like when it came to community. Luke wrote the book of Acts, and we’re going to look at the last 6 verses of Acts 2. Luke tells us ~

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

Church is not a social club. Sometimes we develop great friendships at social clubs, I’m not against them. But, the fact is, we live in a broken world. A world which is filled with sin, hurt, pain, injury, illness and ultimately, death. We often don’t find the comfort and community we desire by going to a meeting, instead, we find what we need when we are surrounded by people who are like minded. We have to be intentional about cultivating these relationships and friendships.

You see, when we talk about making friends with people, forming a community at church . . . I’m going to say something which may shock you . . . for the most part, community and friendships do not occur in this room. There are just too many of us in here and there is not enough time to sit and talk and really get to know one another . . . and form those friendships. This room was designed for worship, not necessarily community. Yet, we worship together as a community. Tt doesn’t mean you can’t find friendship in worship, it’s just more difficult.

I want you to be able to nurture deep friendships with a handful of other Christ followers who push you closer to God, who know the good and the bad about you, and whose love is not contingent upon either, people you can call at 2:00 a.m. if you’re in a crisis. This should be one of the joys of being part of a church.

I really believe, deep, enriching, and real friendships are part of God’s plan for His world.

Acts 2 talks about how devoted the early church members were to one another. Listen to some of the phrases Luke uses to describe the early church ~

42 devoted themselves . . . fellowship . . . breaking of bread . . . prayers.

43 Awe came upon every soul . . . wonders and signs.

44 All were together . . . had all things in common.

45 Selling their possessions . . . to any who had need.

46 Daily attending together . . . breaking bread in their homes . . . glad and generous hearts.

47 praising God . . . having favor with all people. The Lord added to their number daily those being saved. – Acts 2:42-47

That should rock your world!

To listen and to feel what the early church was like.

Now, I get that it’s almost impossible to be at church everyday (I am).  Back then, they lived a different lifestyle.. But do you get a sense of their community? That’s the point I don’t want you to miss. It’s too important.

Here’s the fact, we are all in this together! It’s pretty assumed, but I think we forget that. Understand God has existed forever in a perfect relationship. The Father has a perfect relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit, as does each with the other. It’s something called PERICHORESIS! It’s not a biblical word.

It’s a Greek word, and Perichoresis is the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being perfectly embraced in love and harmony and expressing an intimacy that no one can humanly comprehend.

It would be like a Venn Diagram showing the interconnectedness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father flows into the Son and Spirit, and the Son flows into the Father and Spirit and the Spirit flows into the Father and Son. There is an amazing intimacy in the trinity.

I believe that’s supposed to be the way we live our lives. It’s not supposed to be an enmeshed, unhealthy relationship where we’re into each other’s business and can’t get away from someone poking their nose into someone else’s stuff. We’re not about having no boundaries and not being autonomous and unique.

We are to live in a perichoretical relationship. It’s a constant flowing into one another. It’s a deep love that we have for one another. It’s a desire to be together as a family in Christ.

Imagine if we had this type of love for one another?
Imagine if the world saw this type of true and real Christ – centered love? If they saw who we’re supposed to be and what it looks and feels like?

The world would never be the same again.

Think about what would happen if the church really became the church God intended it to become? Too often we think we’re in this alone. We think it’s about me and my wants, my likes and my dislikes. Church is not all about you! It’s about Christ! It’s about how we can give ourselves to Christ and experience His power, His grace, His mercy, His peace, His strength and courage! But to do that by ourselves does not get us very far. We need one another.

On your own, you’re weak, when you add one other person, you gain strength, and add 2 or more people, and you’ve gained more strength in so many areas than you ever realized. We can’t do it on our own, which is why community is so vital to our existence and the future of the church.

Think about the Lord’s Prayer – – – how does the prayer start? We start with “OUR FATHER.” It’s not my father, it’s our Father, because we are in this together. We are to be a community of believers who come together because of one reason – – – Jesus, the Christ. This affirms our need for relationships, it affirms that we call this the family of God. We are in this together.

When we proclaim Jesus, besides salvation, what else happens? We are adopted into the family, we become one of God’s children, and we become brothers and sisters in Christ. So, if you think you’re an only child, you’ve got that wrong, because you’re part of a huge, huge family! The family of God!

I believe part of the problem is the fact that we’ve become really, really bad at making and cultivating friendships. We talk about being a self-made person, we look up to the lone rangers of the world, those who take life by storm, doing it their way and on their own.

American culture celebrates individualism and personal achievement . . . but have you ever considered that we follow a Messiah who celebrates community? When Jesus invited the disciples to “come, follow me,” the Greek translation is plural. It was the Biblical equivalent of Jesus saying “y’all” because He was calling them into community.

Jesus lived in a society that was built around the idea of community. Families lived with multiple generations under the same roof. They had family gardens and they still have them today. They are terraced plots stacked side by side on a hillside where the neighborhoods worked together to maintain the retaining walls and care for the produce. If one garden failed, they all failed. Life was built around relying on community.

And as the church was in its infancy stages, they got it more right than they ever would have imagined. They ensured the power of community by ensuring “all who believed were together and had all things in common.” People lived off of community!

Think about how often people just get together in the middle of the day to sit and talk . . . to have a cup of coffee. One pastor told the story about the time he was with a missionary from Brazil. He asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee.

The missionary responded, “Really? We have time? I’m honored. That would be great.”

The Pastor was thinking – – – – I don’t know why he’s so thrilled. Because I was about to pull into a drive through coffee stand. After doing that, the missionary said, “Ugh, you Americans. I feel so sorry for you. I thought you were asking me to be my friend. I thought we were going to sit together and share life.”

We don’t do that well do we? We don’t take time out and just sit and get to know one another. How else can we form friendships, form community . . . maybe even get over our animosity towards someone or sense of distance. If we don’t stop, we will be the most alienated and lonely people around.

So . . . who are the people in your community of faith? Like the people of Israel who lived in community and helped one another, who helps fix your retaining walls and ensures your faith is growing? Who can you call when there’s that need? Who can you call at 2 a.m. needing help?

We are not going to change overnight. Some people like to be alone, they are more comfortable that way. Yet, we all need people. If you are newer to the church, if you are saying, you know, I’d like to have a few more friends, I’d like to have someone care about me, to check on me . . . then I’d tell you get involved. Come to Sunday School. Ask me about classes.

Come to Bible Study! Ask about volunteering in some ministry. God has promised that He will be with you wherever you go . . . but you know what, sometimes it’s nice to look at another person, sometimes it’s nice to get a hug, sometimes it’s nice to go someplace where everyone knows your name!

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