Week 4: Community

We have been going through the Wheel illustration looking at five keys to growth, connecting with Christ, feeding yourself through the Word, praying like Jesus and today we’re focusing on community.

The reality is that when you choose your friends, you choose your future.

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.  Pro 13:20

Church is a place to find wise friends to walk through life with.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Pro 27:17  

When iron sharpens iron sparks fly. The right friends can help smooth off the rough edges of your life by encouraging and challenging you.  For iron to sharpen iron it requires time and proximity.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Heb 10:24–25

When logs are together they burn brightly. When one log is taken out of the fire by itself, it goes out. We all need regular encouragement to stay motivated in our walk with Jesus.

What you do occasionally doesn’t change your life. If you workout only once a month you won’t see any results, and you will be sore. But if you go to the gym regularly you will start seeing a difference over time.
In what ways does regular church involvement benefit your life?
What is the Church All About?
The Mission -  To Invite People Find and Follow Jesus.
The church is all about Jesus and he’s the one building it.

I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt. 16:18 

A gate is used for defense, this means the church is on offense. We should be storming the gates of hell to set spiritual captives free and push back the darkness! As the head of the church Jesus leads the charge.

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  Eph 4:15–16 

A healthy body responds to whatever it’s brain tells it. A healthy church follows Jesus as he fits each part together to play it’s unique part in inviting people to find and follow Jesus.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matt 28:18–20 
Jesus asks the whole church, to take the whole gospel to the whole world.  Next week we will focus on how each of us can play our part in this mission.
The Goal - God’s Glory
Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.  Eph 3:21
The primary purpose for the church and for everything in the world is the glory of God. So our preaching, singing, fellowship, service, outreach, and everything we do as a church is to give God the glory he deserves.

The Motive - Love for God and Others
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matt 22:36–40 
Love for God is the motivation for everything we do. And has we love him wholeheartedly he fills us with his love and that overflows on to others giving us the ability to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

The church is built by Jesus, lead by Jesus, for the love and glory of Jesus and given the mission to invite everyone to find and follow Jesus. It’s all about Jesus!
Learning From The First Church
Read this description of the first church at discuss how we can learn from it’s example.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:42–47
What inspires you most from this description that we can apply to our church today?
The Heart Attitudes are seven biblical principles that provide a solid foundation for how a healthy church should love one another:
Put the goals and interests of others above my own
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:3–4 
Selfish ambition always asks, “What’s in it for me?” Vain conceit is having a big head. Selfish arrogant people put themselves over others, but a humble person who loves like Jesus has an “Others Over Me” attitude.

Jesus modeled this for us through his death on the cross and we are called to sacrifice what we want for the sake of others.  What are some practical ways you can start putting others over you?

Live an honest, open life before others
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  Ephesians 4:25
Vulnerability is the key to intimacy. If you put on a mask people, won’t know the real you. Only by getting real with God and others will you experience community as it’s meant to be experienced.

This doesn’t mean you tell everything to everyone. Be honest with everyone and open with those you trust. There’s a difference between deception and discretion. Is there something you’ve been hiding you need to share with a trusted person?

Give and receive Scriptural correction
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  Hebrews 3:13
Sin is sneaky. We all have spiritual blind spots and we need people who can lovingly help us realize where we are going wrong, and get back on the right track. This value means that each member of the church gets a whistle and can call fouls on one another when appropriate and in love.

Clear up relationships
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.  Matt 5:23–24

Clearing up relationships takes priority over worship. Jesus cares more about your relationships than any ritual, including church. If you’re not right with others, you’re not right with God.

If you are offended or you’ve offended someone it’s your job to go to that person and make it right. The goal is restoring the relationship, not necessarily resolving every part of the issue.

Participate in the ministry
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  1 Peter 4:10

God has given each believer spiritual gifts and your gift is not for yourself, it’s for others. We each must steward whatever God has given us to dispense God’s grace in it’s various forms.

Support the work financially  
Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.  1 Cor 9:13–14
In the OT, God set it up so that the Israelites gave 10% of everything they earned to support those who worked in the tabernacle. Just as the priests were supported by those who worshiped then, leaders in the church now are to be supported by those who benefit from their ministry. Not only does the mission move forward when we give, God gives us joy and grow us as we are generous.

Follow spiritual leadership within Scriptural limits
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Heb 13:17
God has placed the leaders in the church with the task of watching over your soul. When you follow leadership make it easy for leaders to lead and the mission to move forward. A football team that doesn’t listen to the coach will not win any games. Also realize that there are limits to this leadership. Spiritual leaders are to lead in areas of the church, but not control your lives. Only follow leaders in the areas that they are following Christ and within Biblical limits.
Which of these heart attitudes do you want to focus on applying to your life today?