Weve discovered over the past couple of weeks that its impossible to find the joy of the Lord by trying to pursue it. Its elusive. The more we focus on making ourselves happy, the sadder we become. And thats because joy, like so many of the gifts of God, is found in doing the very opposite of our natural tendencies. Jesus says we find life when we give ours away (Mk 8:35). As weve seen, this is done when we worship and serve others, but as well learn today it also takes place when we allow the Holy Spirit to baptize us into the community of Gods people (1Co 12:13). To be part of Gods family requires much humility, patience and love, just as it does to be part of any family. But as challenging as it may be, letting ourselves become attached to the Body of Christ is essential if were going to live in the fullness of Gods joy. For Gods joy is something were meant to experience and share with other. Certainly we find joy in quiet times alone, yet God never intended that to be our sole source of joy. He designed us, not only to need Him, but also to need others. Were simply not complete without people in our lives. Were designed to live in community: to worship, serve, grow and reach a lost world as a member of Christs Body. And that means living life shoulder to shoulder with others.
A. The Pronouncement
First of all we start with the foundation of everything we do as believers: the command of our Lord
John 13:34, 35
John 15:11, 12
these things Ive spoken: abide (vs 1-6); obey (v 7); pray (v 7); bear fruit (v 8); love one another (vs 12, 17)
B. The Principle
Joy is not a solitary activity, it is a corporate activity. It is found in fellowship with God and His people.
John 17:20-23 There has always been fellowship in God (the Trinity). Jesus invites us to be one even as He and the Father are one.
Our unity will result in the world believing in Jesus Christ.
C. The Problem
Sin makes us want to pamper ourselves
Depression makes us want to isolate ourselves.
Past conflicts make us want to protect ourselves.
And behind it all we have a spiritual enemy whos completely committed to preventing the unity of the Body of Christ, and an old nature in us that gives him tools to work with (Ga 5:19-21).
So, if were going to realize the joyful community God has planned for us, it wont be without each of us determining to pursue it and pay the price.
D. The Price
What sort of price must we pay? We must be:
Willing to forgive
Willing to trust (carefully)
Wiling to play a part in a larger ministry (1Co 12:27; Eph 4:16
every joint supplies)
Willing to grow in relationship skills
Willing to share life with broken people
Willing to give precious time to others
E. The Purpose
When I answer the call and let God place me into community there are powerful results.
The world will see the power of Christ and be drawn to Him
- Jn 17:23 that the world may know
The many-dimensioned ministry of Christ is released further.
- 1 Co 12:14 For the Body is not one member, but many
The power of the Holy Spirit will be poured out on that fellowship of believers and will transform a community.
- Psalm 133
- Unity is a foundation for all revival and the sovereign work of God in a community
My own transformation into the image of Christ will be greatly accelerated.
- Rom 8:29; Php 2:1-4; Eph 4:1-6
- Regardless of past failure, God will not exempt any of His children. No one is allowed to fail this course.
- We will learn humility, patience and love.
The loneliness in me will give way to joy and strength.
- Ps 68:6 God sets the solitary in families
You see the community of Gods people is essential for me to find the fullness of joy
We discover our calling and become fruitful
We need brothers and sisters to turn to when were down
We are drawn into worship as people worship around us
We need brothers and sisters who will encourage us and pray for us
We need to be inspired by watching the Holy Spirit mightily at work in others (heroes, models)
We enter into koinonia: sharing resources and life like a healthy family (Ac 2:41-47)
F. The Plan
Becoming part of the community of Gods people isnt something left to our own preferences, it is part of the plan God has predestined for us. We need to realize:
Its the way weve been created. Its the way were made (Ge 2:18 It is not good for the man to be alone)
Its a call: God calls us into specific portions of His family
- 1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body
- My membership in Gods church is to be lived out in a local community of believers.
Its a death to self: Its not about me, its about us.
- It goes against my independence, self-centeredness, pride and fear.
- Jn 12:24
I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Name two people you can call when youre in need of prayer.
Name an area where you know God has asked you to serve in the Body of Christ.
Have you ever experienced revival among a small or large group of believers? What happened?