We’re in a new series called “Foundations” which builds off of Jesus’ metaphor in Matt 7: “A house built on sand will never be able to stand BUT a house that’s built on the rock will never be able to fall.”
This week, we’re in Practice #4: Grow in Community. Our guest preacher, Scott Stonehouse, emphasized that biblical community is, first, a New Testament model that we see in the life of Jesus and his followers; second, something we imitate as contemporary followers of Jesus; and, third, something we demonstrate to a watching world as evidence of faith.
Today, let’s consider community as a New Testament model, first lived out by Jesus and then by the apostles and the early church.
First, we’ll read from Mark 3:13-19 (NET):
13 Now Jesus went up the mountain and called for those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve so that they would be with him and he could send them to preach 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 To Simon he gave the name Peter; 17 to James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee, he gave the name Boanerges (that is, “sons of thunder”); 18 and Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus spent his three years of itinerant ministry primarily with a small band of followers. These were ordinary Galilean men of no worldly consequence. And he trained them to preach the good news of the Kingdom as well as to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. But, first, he called them to simply “be with him” (v. 14). They were his dearest friends.
After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, these disciples (and hundreds of other followers of Jesus) received an incredible gift - the ongoing presence of God’s Spirit within them. Let’s read from Acts 2:1-12
1 Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven residing in Jerusalem. 6 When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Completely baffled, they said, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!” 12 All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
These people, varied though they were in ethnicity, religious background, age, wealth, language, gender, and more - were united in the Holy Spirit. And that unity produced community. Let’s jump down a few verses to Acts 2:42-47:
42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and held everything in common, 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. 46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, 47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.
This new community - known as the “ecclesia” or gathering - centered itself upon Scriptural teaching, spending time together, eating meals, praying, serving, worshipping corporately, and sharing the news about Jesus. They spent lots of time together because each of their individual identities was now wrapped up in this new Jesus movement.
Community was modeled by Jesus and his disciples as well as the early church. But it’s not just a historic reality. It’s an offer for you and for me...today. If you have the Holy Spirit within you, then the gift of community is yours for the taking.
What does community look like in your life? Does it look like being with fellow believers? Being known, seen, a valued contributor?
Do you have the joy of being in a group that centers itself around worship, praying, reading God’s word, and simply spending time in normal activities like eating a meal? If not, we’d like to prompt you to step out and try it.
Here's a simple prayer to pray today: "Father, you sent your Son to model the beauty of community. And then you sent your Spirit to indwell and gather believers together. I praise you for the way you've given us the gift of one another. Help me to see the value of knowing and being known by others. Give me opportunities to step into Christian community in real, authentic ways. Amen."
Published on 10-11-2021 @ 4:47 AM CDT