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The Role of Community in Your Spiritual Journey

This morning I want to begin with a very interesting discussion question. And I trust that you’ll be eager to participate with me. The question I have for you today is this: What is the role of donuts in your spiritual journey? You might not have thought about this before, but that’s what I want you to discuss for a few minutes this morning. What is the role of donuts in your spiritual journey?

Now, to help you in your discussion, you’ll notice that there is a pile of donuts over here on this table. I invite you to come and have a donut – or if you’re a little more healthy minded, there are some clusters of grapes as well. But here is the rule: You must share your donut (or your grapes) with someone else. You can’t eat a whole donut by yourself – you must find someone to share it with. And don’t just cut it in half and leave half on the table – you MUST share that donut with someone else. So please, come and help yourself, and then take a couples minutes to discuss: What is the role of donuts (or grapes) in your spiritual journey?

As strange as that question might seem, there is a Biblical point to be made – and we’re going to get into that in just a few minutes. But first, let me remind you what we’ve been talking about.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been going though this little booklet entitled “Your Spiritual Journey”. We’ve been asking the question: Where are you in your spiritual journey?

  • Some of us are just beginning. We’re still trying to figure out all this “God” stuff. It’s all pretty new to us.
  • Others have been at this for a little while, and we’re at the point where we’ve started to personally get to know the God of Heaven. It’s pretty cool.
  • Still others have been followers of Jesus Christ for years now. And little by little, we’re starting to become more like Christ – but of course, there’s still a long way to go.

But where ever you are in your journey – our goal has been to help you take the next steps forward. We don’t want to see you stalled out in your spiritual journey – we want to see you moving forward.

And that’s what brings us to our message today. And our topic isn’t really about donuts, but about fellowship. About Community. About experiencing life together. Coffee & donuts seem to be the Canadian symbol of community, so I thought that would be an appropriate way to start.

So I guess the real question today is: What is the role of community in your spiritual journey?

God created mankind to be relational creatures. In fact, it says in Genesis 2:18…

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18

We are not created to function well alone. We are created to live in community. We are created to experience life – not by ourselves – but with others. And really, when you think about it, it just makes sense. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 4:9

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back- to- back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

There’s a certain logic to this togetherness. It makes sense. Two is stronger than one. Being with someone is better than being alone. And I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your own life.

You know how great it is to have a best friend. Someone who’s by your side through thick and thin. Someone who knows all about you and still likes you anyway! Good friends are such a blessing!

And on the flip side of that, you probably also know what it’s like to feel alone. To have no one there to share your hurts with. No one to pick you up when you fall down. Being alone has got to be the worst feeling of all.

They say that man’s basic needs are food, clothing, and shelter – and I would add to that list, “relationships”.

We need…
#1. A relationship with God. We are designed with God-shaped hole within us. There is always something not quite right within us – until we have a right relationship with God. And we’ve been talking about how to get that relationship over these past few weeks.

But also, in addition to our relationship with God, God has designed us to need…
#2. A relationship with others. And specifically what I want to talk about today, is our relationship with the church.

We have a lot of different relationships in life. We have people we work with. People we go to school with. Our teachers. Local authorities. We have neighbors. We have relatives. We have all these different relationships – but as Christians – as followers of Christ – we also have the church. We have God’s family.

And your relationship with the church is unlike any other relationship you have. The Bible describes this relationship in few different ways, but one of the more common ways is that of a body. Look at Romans 12:4-5

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5

Hold that thought and let’s also look at Ephesians 4:15-16 – and we’re kind jumping to the middle of the conversation, but it says…

“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. 16 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.” Ephesians 4:15-16

Let me ask you this question: If you take your heart and remove it from your body – what happens to your body? And what happens to your heart? They depend each other to survive.

The idea here in these two passages is that your relationship with the church is like that. You need the church – and the church needs you. You’re not designed to function as a Christian without the church and the church is not designed to function without you! You are an irreplaceable, absolutely important part of the body of Christ.

But there are so many people – so many Christian – who try to live their lives apart from the church! That is not God’s design!

Now I realize that the church is not perfect. After all, there’s people involved – so there’s going to be flaws and faults. But it is still God’s design that you and the church need each other.

And I should clarify that I’m not just talking about church attendance. Church is not an event. Church is not a place. It’s people. It’s these people. Take a few moments to look around this room. These people are the church.

It is God’s design that you should be part of their lives – and they should be part of yours. And not just for an hour on Sunday morning.

Think of the community that Jesus had – his twelve disciples. Did they meet just once a week to hear Jesus speak and then sing a few songs and head on home? No way! They did everything together!

They ate together. They went to weddings and funerals together. They worked together. They did ministry together. Simply put – they did life together. This is the kind of community that God wants us to enjoy!

In fact, we see the same thing in the early church after Jesus ascended to heaven in Acts 2:42

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

These guys did life together. They had a genuine community – and it was pretty awesome.

This morning, you guys shared a donut. How did you feel about that? It was kinda good wasn’t it? Not just the donut. It was good to fellowship for just a few moments. To share a somewhat odd moment of life together. Its good.

Well, God wants us to share so much more than just donuts. God wants us to share our lives. To journey through life together.

You know, I think that’s why summer camps are so effective and so life changing for so many people. It’s like two straight months of authentic church community. You’re not just having a church service once a week – you’re going through life together 24 hours a day seven days a week! That sort of community changes lives. It impacts the course of your spiritual journey.

Bible college is another life-changer. Why? Same reason. 24/7 authentic church community. You go through life together and it shapes who you are.

If your only “church involvement” happens on Sunday mornings – you are missing out on so much! Perhaps thats why the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 10:25…

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

God has designed us to live in community. He has given us the church – this unique body of people to build us up, to encourage us, to spurs us on, to help us move forward in our spiritual journey.

I can’t begin to tell you the impact that my church family has had on my spiritual journey. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I’d be, but it sure wouldn’t be here.

And I think that many of you can probably relate. If you’ve experienced authentic community with your church family in the past, you know what an impact it makes.

And if you haven’t experienced that, man, you gotta try it. It will literally change your life. Being part of God’s family is awesome. There is no group or society that you can join that comes anywhere close.

So to close this morning, I want to give you a challenge and an encouragement. The encouragement is this:

If you want to move forward in your spiritual journey – you have to get involved with the church. And this isn’t a call to become a member or teach Sunday School (Though those are both good things)… This is a call to get involved in the lives of these people sitting right here. Remember that verse in Romans we looked at earlier? Look at the last part of that verse again.

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5

There is a responsibility there. We all belong to each other. If you are not involved in these people’s lives – you are withholding good from them. God has given you unique qualities and unique characteristics that He intended for you to share with his family. If you are not doing that, not only do we miss out on what God’s given you, you’re missing out on all that God has given us. We’re designed to be in relationship with each other. And if you want to continue to move forward in your spiritual journey, you’ve got to be part of that relationship.

So that’s my encouragement to you this morning.

And here’s the challenge:

This week I want you to share something with someone in the church. I don’t even care what it is – just share something. Maybe you want to take them out to Tim Horton’s for donut & coffee – that’d be a great start!

Maybe you want to invite them to your house to share a meal. Maybe you want to go to their house and help them with a project – share the work load.

Maybe you want share your story with someone. Maybe something funny happened to you last week – why not share that story with someone? Maybe you’ve got 3,000 zucchini’s growing in your garden – why not take a load of ‘em over to someone’s house and share those zuchinnis with them?

Maybe you’ve got some hurt going on in your life right now? Maybe you could share your hurt with someone? Maybe you know of someone who’s in financial need – perhaps you could share your money with them?

Are you getting the idea? Share something with someone in your church family. Let’s get involved in each other’s lives – and sharing is a fantastic way to do that. Let’s not limit our “church involvement” to Sunday mornings. Let’s be a 24/7 365 days a year authentic church community.

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