Notes from Mars Hill Bible Church - Pastor Tim Gaydos
What is community? Why do we desire community?
God created us for two things:
1. To be a worshipper; to bring him glory
2. To be in community with one another; to do life together
God has called us to do life together. In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. . ." God Himself is a relational being. He exists in trinitarian community.
Genesis 2:15-25. God makes everything and he says it is very good (1:31). He's looking around and he places man in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by everything that is good. The man he has created is good. Then amid all of this goodness, God says there is one thing that is NOT good: "It is not good for the man to be alone" (v. 18).
Adam was not lonely because he was imperfect but because he was perfect. This ache, this longing for friendship and community, is the only ache we are given that isn't the result of sin .God knew Adam would not enjoy the paradise of Eden alone. He created us in his image. He is a relational being. He created us to be relational beings.
So can man fundamentally be alone and reflect God's image? No. It might be nice, you think to yourself, to go off into the woods somewhere and build a little hut in the forest and live there for the rest of your life, spending long days just talking with the Creator and being alone. The thing is, it's not about the individual. When Satan, as a serpent, begins his work in Genesis 3, he puts a wedge in the relationship: he offers awareness and knowledge of self. The serpent says: then it will be all about you.
Since sin entered, we long and ache for joyous, endless community. But it's unsatisfying because sin has distorted our idea of community and we've made it about ourselves. If you think back about your relationships, there's a good chance you can think of a time you hurt someone or someone hurt you. It becomes difficult to trust people and you feel yourself pulling back. "I don't need anyone," you think, because you don't want to get hurt. But really, the aching and longing hasn't changed.
The #1 reason people come to church is for community and friendship. Our society is going after a lot of means to try to find community: Craigslist, Facebook, Myspace. Everyone's searching for people to connect to and communicate with.
One of the problems with our society's view of relationships is that it's focusing on a transaction-based relationship. Sure, the "I've got your back if you've got mine" always sounded like a nice philosophy, but why are we always asking, "What's in it for me?" Sin sparked selfishness. Why can't we just be there to invest and serve?
In the past years, full-service restaurant attendance has dropped more than 30 percent, while fast-food attendance has gone up more than 100%. More people are eating alone in their cars instead of taking their neighbors out to dinner.
In John 17:20, Jesus is praying that those who believe in him may be one as he and the Father are one. Wow. Can you imagine such unity? The trinity is sometimes a hard concept to grasp -- we know Jesus = God. Can you imagine you = me?
Christ came and died on the cross to remove the guilt and stain to bring us back into relationship with him and back into relationship with one another.
Ephesians 2:19 says that when we come to know Christ, we are no longer strangers, but we are citizens with God's people.
Acts 2:42-47 says that all who believed were together and had all things in common. The Greek work that describes the fellowship in these verses literally means "sharing, partnership." It's a oneness. Who are these verses talking about? Who was together? You can find the long list of peoples in Acts 2:9.
Our culture is very individualistic. We thinking through the "me" lense -- even when we look at the Bible. If you're familiar with the Beatitudes, maybe you've read it, "Blessed am I when people insult me, persecute me and falsely say all kinds of evil against me because of [Jesus]" (Matthew 5:11). Most of the time the word "you" shows up in Scripture, it's plural. If there were a redneck translation of the Bible, it might say, "Blessed are y'all when people insult y'all..." Stop looking at Scripture as what you must do and start considering what we must do as a community and a family.
Community in Scripture is totally counter-culture. It was based on love, giivng, sharing, and receiving. Today, community is about power and self-advancement and self-glorification.
There's freedom in understanding that God calls us to community. It won't feel so awful when you don't get that promotion because it's not about pwer, control, status, recognition or money. It's about everyone else. It's about giving when others have needs.
Back in the day, Jesus' name was being spread like wildfire because the Christians didn't just take care of themselves. They cared for everyone and thus had favor among them. We are called to serve and show love and compassion and mercy because God has shown us love and compassion and mercy. Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Notice that doesn't say "and praise you for your actions"!)
We'll end with these verses on holy living, specifically when it comes to living in community, from Colossians 3:12-17 (The Message):
12-14) So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17) Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.