Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH: Christian Community
Sunday, September 25, 2016
we praise you for sending your Son
to be one of us and to save us.
Look upon your people with mercy,
for we are divided in so many ways,
and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love.
We ask this gift, loving Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I – Community of Christians
God has called us to experience him in community, knowing that we are made to be in relationship with one another and in need of support and input, acceptance and belonging. Not only do we need others, but others need us.
We need other Christians
Proverbs 27:17 and Hebrews 10:24-25
- Why are relationships with other Christians important?
Other Christians need us
1 Corinthians 12:12-13-13:7
- How might you view your relationships differently when you think of yourself as part of the body?
- Our fellowship with other believers is to be prompted and sustained by love. What might this practically look like?
II – The Church Community
The word church in the Bible comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which means a called out company or assembly. Wherever it is used in the Bible it refers to people. It can be a mob (Acts 19:30-41), the children of Israel (Acts 7:38), and the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:25, 32).
We see the word church used three different ways:
- As the body of Christ
1 Corinthians 1:2
2 Corinthians 1:1
- As the body of individual living believers
1 Corinthians 15:9
- As the universal group of all people who have trusted Christ through the ages
The church-the living, visible community of those who have responded to God’s call.
The importance and purpose of church
A commitment to Christ always includes a commitment to a visible community. We never see the “just-me-and-my Bible” idea of faith in the Bible. From Genesis through Revelation, our relationship with God and being in community are closely linked.
- Jeremiah 24:7 and Genesis 17:7-11
- Who were the people of God in the Old Testament?
- What was the outward sign that accompanied being a member of the covenant community?
- Acts 2:37-41
- Who were the people of God in the New Testament?
- What always accompanies a profession of faith? What does this symbolize?
- Acts 2:42-47
- What should we experience when we are a part of the local church?
III – Outside the Christian Community
The importance of community extends beyond our church. But we are often hesitant to engage with those that don’t follow Christ. What if Christians never interacted with anyone else? Christians have a responsibility to live and interact with the rest of the world.
We typically respond to fellowship with non-Christians in one of 3 different ways:
- Cultural embrace – we sacrifice our Christian identity and adopt a lifestyle this is virtually indistinguishable from non-Christians. We are motivated by a fear of not being accepted by our non-Christian friends.
- Cultural defiance – we sacrifice loving engagement and avoid non-Christians. We are motivated by a fear of corruption and tend to be judgmental and critical of non-Christians
- Cultural negotiation – we balance loving engagement and our Christian identity. We are motivated by love to strategically connect with non-Christians and demonstrate the love of Christ through our service, friendship, words and witness.
We are to be cultural negotiators. In this way, we can pursue natural, authentic relationships within our network of non-Christian friends through which we can demonstrate the love of Christ in every aspect of our lives.
In what ways is Jesus’ command to his disciples a call to cultural negotiation?