Experiencing Life Together
28 Feb 2004, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
Title: Experiencing Life Together
Theme: Community is not Optional for the Church Family
Scripture Reading : Psalm 133
Last week we spoke of our friendship with God. How our purpose in life is to achieve meaningful fellowship with the God Family in heaven. This is to be done with all our heart, mind and soul, all our strength and soul - the Total you. God is our Valentine and wants us all to be in love with Him.
Today we want to look at fellowship with each other as a Church Community.
In 1 John 1:1-3 Pastor John as his custom was refers to Jesus Christ as the eternal One from "the beginning", "the Word of Life". That "life" was "seen and "witnessed", to "Show you that eternal life which was with the Father." Verse 3 " That which we have seen and heard we tell you about, so that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. He adds a most "community or fellowship reason in verse 4, "so that our joy may be full" or complete. Here we have the best possible basis for Christian life, fellowship, community and Christian sharing of Christ.
The Greek word used for fellowship is "koinownia." It means all of "having things in common; partnership, fellowship, communicate; to share in anything, to recognize and enjoy each other in the common experiences and interests of Christians. Wow! It is being Christ's Christian family with Christ together. Busy people must make time for this Church family fellowship. Business people. Retired people. Home bound mothers. Career mothers. Singles and people of all ages. It must permeate our work and our school homework.
It has been said, "People need to be involved in meaningful and constant community (fellowship) or they will continue on indefinitely in a state of intense lonliness". So fellowship with Jesus must include wife, family, friends, Church family and the wider community.
People who give fellowship have friends to laugh with, cry with, learn with, live with, love and grow old and die with . Are you lonely here? Then relate, talk, phone, visit and fellowship.
GOD CREATED US FAMILY
Pastor John says this time in 1 John 3:1 NIV "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!" God wants a family. We are His "children," His family, Christian family in particular. You - We are not Loners but family. Part of God's family! We have togetherness and Relations! You see "community is not optional for Christians."
Pastor Paul in Ephesians 1:5 New Living translation records, "His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure." God is in the process of building family, Church family and community. Church family provides Purpose Identity and Meaning . Baptism seals this relationship by faith. Baptism is not the means, Christ is the means. Baptism is only the symbol of our relationship together with Him.
WE WERE CREATED FOR COMMUNITY; FASHIONED FOR FELLOWSHIP; FORMED FOR FAMILY
Pastor Paul makes the above clear in Ephesians 4:12 where he records these astounding facts. " I …beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called." Vocation and called are the issue here. God has called us to be family. It is a calling and vocation. What is more we are urged to "Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit(that's how it happens) in the bond of peace." Christians as family have a bonding which generates peace in the Spirit. The New Century Version of verse 3 reads, " you are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue this way." YOU are unique BUT togetherness is essential for God's family. Remember "vocation" gives the idea of intentional support of the Local Church family and our Mission and witness.
GENUINE TOGETHERNESS FORGIVES
Pastor John again in John 13:34-35 quotes Jesus as encouraging us to, "love one another; as I have loved you, " ( He forgives with love), and for emphasis He repeats , "that you also love one another." Verse 35 " By this shall all men know (recognize ) that you are my disciples, (family) , "if you have love for each other." Love for each other carries with it forgiveness whenever necessary. We must remember as Paul says in 2 Cor 5 we Christians are "Ministers of Reconciliation" It must start with Church family. Family, if offended or wronged; talk to God first and not to others. Then don't delay make the first move toward reconciliation even if you are not the main cause. Sympathize, confess, cooperate and pursue reconciliation. Attack the problem and not the person.
BEING INTENTIONALLY COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER
John emphasizes in 1 John 3:18, "let us not love in word neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." The New Living Bible is most lucid. "Dear children, (Church Family) , let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions." So respect each other intentionally so as to cultivate and build and not destroy our Church community and fellowship. Speak the truth with love; Be humble not smug; Be courteous and respect confidentiality- be a turtle. Be servant and interdependent . Be frequent, regular and available as family.
PRAYER PROTECTS THE CHURCH FAMILY
Jesus makes it clear in John 17:20-21 that our unity and harmony in Christ and the Father through the Holy Spirit, protects our relationship with each other. His prayer to Heaven in Chapter 17 is all about that issue. If followed this will cause the world to believe in Him. So, no gossip sharing. Encourage each other and build harmony and unity. Pray for each other. Talk to each other on a personal level. Warning: do not have unrealistic expectations of others. Remember who you are!
CHRISTIAN LOVE PAYS ATTENTION
Paul is clear on this point. In Galations 5:13-15 he says, "by love serve one another." "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You should love your neighbour as yourself." Love notices. Love remembers. Love listens. Love is Family. Love is Community. Love is fellowship. Love is being like Jesus and the God Family.
I noticed a rugby football advertisement on the TV during the news. Among other things, the message of working to a victorious and successful future was enshrined in six words. "More Hunger More Desire More determination."
We as a Church could adopt that as our slogan for the future success of our Church Family and our mission to the area. More Hungry for God His love and presence. More Desire to let go and let God build our relationships and fellowship with the Heavenly Trio and one another. More Determination to let Christ's Holy Spirit control our entire souls.
What about it Church Family? Let us take up the challenge for an even closer knit Church family in Christ.
LOVE AND SERVE THE LORD MORE IN 2004
LOVE AND SHARE THE LORD MORE IN 2004
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