George Vineyard Church

Teachings / Sermons

Authentic Christian Community
Fellowship that counts

by Derek

Authentic Christian Community
I was really inspired by an article I read on Community in the Cutting Edge magazine and by the great conversations I have been having with Jonno (Church 24/7), Donald and others. Lets continue to explore what 'authentic Christian Community' looks and feels like.

Early Church
Acts 2
1Co 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
Act 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
Act 2:41-47 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
From; partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship.
Intro: A community starved world… shows in the massive increase of virtual communities.
1. Acts 2 style of community;
Not always like that, we read later of the difficulties within the Christian community (lack of love, greed, worldliness, etc.)
Church of 2nd and 3rd Century… plagues struck Roman Empire… Christians nursed their sick so death rates lower than that of the pagan community. They in turn would nurse their pagan neighbour’s sick and when they were well they would come to Christ.
However it does give us a taste of what Jesus centred community can look like.
We often fall in love with the ideal of community… and have a picture in our minds of what ‘real’ Church should look like. “love (the ideal) community and you will kill it, Love your brother and you will build it” Bonhoeffer
As an Ideal to be achieved we choose people we want to build with – cool, singles, married, rich, poor… invisible airport scanners
2. Jesus Centred Community:
Authentic Christian community exists in Christ (joining Trinitarian community)
1Jn 1:3-4 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (4) We write this to make our joy complete.
for Christ (poor, sick, etc) and because of Christ (a gift)
Authentic Christian community has Jesus as the centre, no matter what it looks like (Jonno: arrows – journey towards Christ who is the centre. We are all on different places on the same journey)
True Jesus community gives up on the idea that the community is there to meet ‘my needs’ – consumer driven church.
It’s not about finding the next best model of church, its about koinonia, Jesus based relationships that don’t come easy… its about a ‘long obedience in the same direction’. There are no shortcuts to Jesus centred community
3. Without love we do not have Authentic Jesus community:
1Jn 4:7-21 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (8) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (9) This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (11) Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (12) No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (13) We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (14) And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. (15) If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. (16) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (17) In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. (18) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (19) We love because he first loved us. (20) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (21) And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
4. Conclusion:
Community is not the goal, the witness of community into a lost world is the goal… we are the only community that does not exist for its members but rather for its non members… Our common journey towards Christ brings about Jesus community and our common journey towards him takes is a journey to the lost / poor / sick

Date Added: 2010-09-03
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