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Engaging with God’s People

We’ve been talking a lot about the word “engaging” recently. And before we go further, I want to refresh our memory on the  definition of the word “engage” so we don’t get lost in the jargon.

Engage Defined:

  • To become involved in or participate in
  • To pledge or to promise
  • To assume an obligation
  • To become meshed or interlocked
  • To draw into

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how we engage with God and I realize that we’ve only just begun to just touch on what exactly that involves, but I trust that God has stirred your heart a little so that you will continue to explore what it means to engage with God in a deep, significant way in your own life.

But now, once we’ve begun to engage with God, the next area we want to look at is engaging with God’s people. So here are our goals for the next month.

We want to become involved in or participate in the Family of God.
We want to pledge or to promise – make some level of commitment to the Family of God.
We want to assume our obligations as members of the Family of God.
We want to become meshed or interlocked with the Family of God.
We want to be drawn and we want to draw others into the Family of God.

Now when I say phrases like “becoming involved” and “making commitments” and “assuming obligations” – Most people’s brains start saying “Whoa Whoa! That’s starting to sound like a lot of work. That kind of stuff would take a lot of my time and I’m busy enough as it is.

And it’s true. Our schedules are full of activities. Most of us are not looking for more things to do. So why on earth would we want to become involved, make promises, assume obligations, get interlocked, or be drawn into anything!?

Why do we want to engage with God’s people? Wouldn’t it be easier if living life as a Christian was just between you and God and no one else had to be involved? Many people believe that, you know. Lots of people who profess Christianity believe that their relationship with God is their business. It’s just between them and God. They don’t need to be part of the Church. They can pray to God by themselves. They can read the Bible by themselves. They can even sing to God by themselves.

And that’s partly true. You can do all those things. So why on earth would you go through the hassle of being part of the Church? Because, let’s be honest – the Church isn’t perfect. It’s full of people who aren’t perfect. When people claim that the church is full of hypocrites – they’re right. It’s also full of liars, thieves, cheaters, swindlers, and otherwise down-right sinful people. Because we’re human. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, none of us could even think about going to heaven. And even now that we are saved and are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, we aren’t there yet and we still make mistakes. We’re still imperfect people.

So why do you want to engage with imperfect people? Why do you want to engage with the Church?

Take a look at this puzzle piece. This is one of those puzzle pieces that each of us held about four weeks ago when we started this series. And I think I mentioned this then, but you can’t really make a whole puzzle with just one piece. Try as you may, it just doesn’t work. Why? Because puzzle pieces are not made to function alone. That’s not their purpose. That’s not how they are designed.

And the same thing can be said of people. We are not made to function alone. We are not designed to live the ‘lone ranger’ life. Throughout Scripture God has set the pattern for us time and time and time again that we are not designed to function alone. Even back as earlier as Creation, we see that God did not create man to be alone.

Genesis 2:18-24
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.
23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone,? and flesh from my flesh!?   She will be called ‘woman,’? because she was taken from ‘man.’”
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

In one of the first recorded statements of God, God says “It is not good for man to be alone.” And there is a lot of truth packed in that statement that you can apply in many areas of life.

Now in this specific instance, God is referring to the marriage relationship – the cornerstone of the family unit. It is God’s design that people go through life – not alone, but together. It is God’s design that people raise a family – not alone, but together. In fact, God thought it was so important that we go through life together that He designed us in such a way that in order for us to have children, there has to be two people involved. That’s God’s design.

Why did He do it that way? Because it’s not good for man to be alone. Even God in Himself is not alone. Yes, He is one God – but there are three distinct persons in the Godhead – The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

So if God Himself is made up of three persons, why do we think that we should be a solo act?

Scripture is clear that life is best experienced together.

Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Ecclesiastes  4:9-12
Two are better than one,  because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down,  his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. ?But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered,  two can defend themselves. ? A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I think this is why Jesus choose twelve disciples – not just one. This is why when Paul went on each of his missionary journeys, He did not go by himself, he always had a team. And this is why when you become a follower of Christ, you become part of the family of God. You become part of the Church.

Life is hard. It is full of challenges. It’s full of disappointments. It’s full of struggles. Especially as Christians who constantly go against the flow the of the world.

Jesus says in John 16:33…

“In this world you will have trouble.”

That’s a fact. Of course, Jesus is always with us and He is our ultimate source of comfort, but He has given us an amazing family to journey with us as we go through this difficult life. Our Church family is probably one of the greatest gifts God has given to us. Think about it:

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how young you are. It doesn’t matter what country you come from or what language you speak. It doesn’t matter if you are dentist or a farmer – a lawyer or a tattoo artist. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you’ve made in life. When you become Christian, you become part of the world-wide Family of God.

You’re loved and accepted for who you are. You don’t have to be perfect. When you make mistakes, as we all do, there is forgiveness and second chances. When life deals you the hard blows, there are brothers and sisters there to come along side you and help you through. That’s what families do.

And that is exactly why, for the next month, we are going to put forth an extra effort:

To become involved in or to participate in the Family of God.
To pledge or to promise – make some level of commitment to the Family of God.
To assume our obligations as members of the Family of God.
To become meshed or interlocked with the Family of God.
To be drawn and to draw others into the Family of God.

Because, like we read in Ecclesiastes earlier, we don’t want to see anyone in our Family be the one to fall down without anyone to help him up.

We want to be a family that takes care of each other. We want to be a family where people don’t have to put on an act – they can be who they really are. We want to be a family that builds up and encourages those who are going through struggles.

So for the next month, we are going to look at how we can do that – how we can become that kind of a family. We want to get past simply shaking hands on Sunday morning and get to a deeper level of engagement where we can…

“Carry each other’s burdens.” Galatians 6:2
“Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Will it take effort? Yes, it will. Will it require a significant investment of your time? Yes, it will. But will it be worth it – to truly engage with God’s people? Yes, it absolutely will.

So to that end, I want to close this morning with a few announcements. As part of our whole church initiative, we want to provide some opportunities for you to begin engaging with God’s people – And so, for the next month we will be throwing all kinds of engagement parties!

Now these aren’t “ENGAGEMENT” parties that you throw when two people are going to get married. These are just small group get-togethers where you can relax, be yourself, and have a good time interacting with other people in the Church. For example, one engagement party might just be sitting around the firepit one evening with another family or two. Another engagement party might involve three families going out for Chinese food. Another engagement party might involve a board games night. Or swimming, or bowling, or watching the football game, or fishing, or coffee at Tim Hortons. There are all kinds of options out there. We just want to provide plenty of opportunities for you to engage with God’s people.

So here’s how it will work: Every week, we’re going to try to have at least three engagement parties. I would ask that everyone try to attend one engagement party every week. I know that will require a bit of a time commitment, but as I said earlier, I think it’ll be well worth it. To help us stay a little organized, each Sunday we’re going to announce the week’s upcoming events and then pass out a guest list that you can put your name on so the hosts know about how many to expect. We’re a little late in the service to pass around the guest list this week, so I’ve got the guest list at the back and you can put you name down for one of the events as you leave this morning.
So to get us started, let me tell you what’s going on this week. You can find this information in your sermon notes.

Well, I hope you’re excited about these engagement parties and also about our Burger for a Buck events this summer. I am very excited to see what God will do among us through these events. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I think we’re going to grow a lot together. So let us pray…

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