Intro: I didnt come to the conviction easily, but finally there was no getting around it: there can be no maturity in the spiritual life, no obedience in following Jesus, no wholeness in the Christian life apart from an immersion and embrace of community. I am not myself by myself. Community, not the highly vaunted individualism of our culture, is the setting which Christ is at play. Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in 10,000 Places
The Big Idea: As opposed to living individual consumers, followers of Jesus are called to lives of membership belonging to one another and to the place in which they live.
I. We belong to one another.
a. Based on imago Dei (Genesis 1:26) we bear the image of God who is 3 persons in one, perfect community; it was not good that Adam was alone though all of creation was good he was made for community;
b. Finds the expression in commandments #5-10 (Exodus 20:12-17) the horizontal commands after the vertical ones;
c. Necessary for obedience to the Micah Declaration (Micah 6:8) love mercy and do justly, not just work by grace to redeem souls;
d. Part of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40): love God will all your being and, it doesnt stop there, but your neighbor as yourself;
e. Inherent in the Body of Christ imagery (1 Cor 12:12-31): the eye needs the hand, etc. and they cant function like this alone.
If community is so important as we have just seen above, why does much of evangelical, protestant (worship) treat us as passive, individual consumers? Do we portray that you can be a part of us and be anonymous? Your church needs you! And you need them. That is why we do responsive readings, reply with thanks be to God, sing hymns and songs, etc., because in order to read along as a group, you have to listen to one another and hear the cadence.
II. We are within a particular place.
a. Place is not unimportant (Genesis 2:8) common grace comes to all of us and today is a good day with sunshine for everyone, whether you believe or not. However, God wanted Adam there IN the garden, in a real place.
b. All of the to one another commands require real people, in real places.
c. The incarnation (John 1) God does not send his Son in theory. He sends him for real; where does God show up on the scene in history? He is born in Bethlehem.
d. Go! Make disciples! (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8)
All the wonderful things to enjoy that are particular to our place (i.e. ribs, sweet corn, mud pie, etc.), are to be received as one of Gods good gifts to us. This is to give us a glimpse of just how satisfying Christ is for us, both now and eternity. We do this in community.
You have been placed by God in your tribe and your location to figure out how to redeem it by Gods grace.
Contextualization how does the gospel story intersect with stories common in the tribe, the stories they use to explain reality? How does the empty tomb turn these stories on its head?
The Christian life has a different flavor as it is lived out all around the world as God brings his grace to transform peoples lives in each unique culture.
Conclusion: God sanctifies us by His Spirit and most often in community. Embrace and love the place that He has planted you, striving to redeem souls and the culture by Gods grace.