Outstretched Arms - Living a Life of Community

Dave Jones April 26, 2008 1 Peter 3:8

 

Introduction

INPUT: When you think of a community, what comes to mind? What is true about a group people that would call themselves a community?

I would like to have a discussion on quote and comment from an article last year in USA Today about modern day communes.  The quote is the last paragraph of the article.  The person quotes has written several books on communes past and present.  The comment is from some posting to the online article.

Miller says communal living's appeal stems from questions many people ask themselves: "Why do we live fragmented, separate lives? What happened to the old idea of neighbors and interaction? People would like to recapture it."

As far as I feel, he has said it ALL...people want a sense of connectedness which they do not get from today's contemporary society...we have given up on trying to be connected...it's too complicated ...it didn't used to be...just "visiting a neighbor" becomes a big issue now..."Call me before you come over"...are we so busy that we do not even have time to even chat by the mailbox anymore or a simple "hi" when pulling out of our driveway?

Thriving communes no haven for 'deadbeats'  By Judy Keen, USA TODAY, Aug 28, 2007

Is that person right?  Are people looking for that connectedness?  What about the last part of the comment?  “Just visiting our neighbor becomes a big issue.” 
INPUT: Have you seen or experienced that attitude?  How can that attitude creep into the church?  And what happens if and when it “infects” the church family?

 David Jeremiah starts this chapter out by saying that when bad things happen in this world, they look for the presence of God.  9-11 is a good example of this.  But it is also true on a personal level, not just a national level.  When individuals hurt, they look for help, they look for God.  The question is. “Where are they going to find God’s presence?”   

God designed His presence to be known through a community of faith called the church.  When God’s people live like the family they are called to be, they reveal the presence of the Father.

Let’s look at 1 Peter 3:8

-To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

Prior to verse 8 Peter had been talking about how to get along in the body of Christ.  Now he addresses everyone.  Here are some principles that help the church live together as the community of believers it was intended to be.

Verse 8 gives five simple things which, if the church practices them, will result not only people getting along (caring for one another) but those in the world recognizing that God is in our midst.

Let’s look at those five “simple” things:

  1. Community Requires Unity

In the New King James verse 8 starts with “be of one mind.”  Peter is talking about unity.  Whether it is a family, small group, church, business, or government, unity is a requirement for community.

What is it in a church that provides that unity?

Unity in the church comes from our common commitment to Jesus Christ. 

Let’s quickly look at couple of verses in acts:

Acts 2: 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

Acts 4:32  Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

These verses show that in the early church, they were committed to the concept of unity.  They had a strong common focus.

Would you say that everyone in our church is committed to Christ?

INPUT: How is that commitment lived out every day?

Another way to look at this concept to look at the word used in the NASB – Harmonious.

Being harmonious does not mean becoming a clone. This does happen in cults, but it is not so in Christianity. In a cult, everyone thinks the same thing—whatever the cult leader teaches. Conformity is the operative principle in cults. Harmony is the operative principle in Christianity. Perhaps the best illustration would be orchestra made up of many different musicians, with a wide variety of instruments, but many different parts to be played even by the same kind of instrument. In a good orchestra, every member plays the same song, and all follow the leadership of one conductor. So it should be in the church. We all have different stations in life, different gifts, different ministries; but we have all embraced the same gospel, trusting in the same Savior, and following His leadership through His Word and His Spirit.

  1. Community Reacts with Sympathy

The word used here literally means to suffer with.  Other translations use the word compassion. 

INPUT: What are some ways we can be sympathetic, ways we can show compassion, ways we can “suffer with our brothers and sisters in Christ?

David Jeremiah gives a good illustration of sympathy:

Some sheep farmers in New Mexico were losing lambs in the freezing cold weather.  The sheep would be in the pasture, and the adult sheep would not recognize how cold it was getting because of their thick wool coats.  They couldn’t recognize that their lambs were freezing to death because they hadn’t yet grown heavy fleece to protect them.  So the sheep farmers shaved the top of the ewes’ heads so they could feel when the temperature was dropping and head for shelter with the lambs trailing behind.

Sometimes we are like the adult sheep and become immune and insensitive to the suffering and needs around us that God has to “Shave the top of our heads.”

The point is, as a family, a church and even as a community, we need to be sensitive to the needs of those around us.  Being sympathetic means we are concerned with the welfare of those around us.  Philippians 2 says we are not to merely look out for our own interests, but also the interests of those around us.

How does this concept of sympathy add to our sense of community?  Or another way to ask the questions, “What are some ways we can show sympathy in our church?  In our class?

  1. Community Responds Like Family

Three times in this letter, Peter urges the church to love the brethren, 1:22, 2:17, and 3:8.

INPUT: What does that look like in your family?  Can you give examples of how you responded to issues that reflect the value of community in your family? 

How does this concept apply to our church?  To the worldwide church?

We can travel all over the world and have that sense of community with fellow believers, because we are family.

  1. Community Reaches out in Sincerity

Peter’s fourth admonition is that we are to be kindhearted or tenderhearted to one another.  This is echoed by Paul in Ephesians 4:32

The opposite of this concept is being hardhearted. 

INPUT: How would you describe a hardhearted person?

They typically are an uncaring person, looking for their own advantage in every situation, regardless of the cost or impact on others.

Tenderheartedness on the other hand, is having a heart like Jesus.  Being moved to embrace the suffering and needs of another person.

-You could tell the story about the grandmother and the little girl on page 119.

  1. Community Reinforces Humility

Be humble in spirit.  When you live in a community, you don’t always get your own way.  You sometimes, many times, have to yield to another.  That takes humility.  Realizing that your needs, or wants, are not the most important issue at the moment.

Successful communities are made up of people that are flexible and able to compromise on small issues.  They have learned to not major on the minors. 

INPUT: What would a church look like if members never, or at least rarely compromised?

Tell story of Shya pp 120-121

What’s the point of making sure our church family is a strong community?

Let’s go back to the beginning…

When people hurt, they are looking for God’s presence.  When the church is functioning the way God intended, it can be a place where people can turn in times of trouble.  Praise the Lord that Faith Baptist is that kind of church.

The chart below is a concise recap of the five concepts of the verse.  If you have time J, you could review each point.

Attitudes Which Revolutionize Relationships

Word
Concept

Definition

New Testament
Parallel

Divine
Attribute

Antonym
(contrast)

Harmonious

Having one mind

Rom. 12:16; 15:5-7
John 17:20-23
Acts 4:32, 41-47
1 Cor. 1:10; chapter 12
2 Cor. 13:11
Eph. 4:3
Phil. 1:27; 2:2; 3:15; 4:2

Phil. 2:5
Matthew 4:1-11
John 5:30-32

Factious
Titus 3:9-11
3 John 9-10
1 Cor. 1:10-12

Contentious
1 Cor. 6:1-11

Sympathetic
(literally, “suffer together”)

Sensitivity to what others are going through

Rom. 12:15
1 Cor. 12:26
Heb. 13:3

Heb. 4:15; 10:34
John 11:35

Detached
1 Cor. 12:14-18

Self-centered and thus insensitive to impact on another – Romans 14-15
1 Cor. 8-10

Brotherly
(Philadelphia)

Brotherly love

Rom. 12:9-10
1 Thess. 4:9
Heb. 13:1
1 Pet. 1:22
2 Pet. 1:7

John 11:35-36;
13:1; 15:12-15

Hate your brother
1 John 3:14-15; 4:20

Kind-hearted

Compassionate
Deep feeling
Merciful
“Affectionately
sensitive —quick to feel and show affection” (Stibbs, p. 129)

Good Samaritan,
Luke 10:30-37
Eph. 4:32
2 Cor. 7:15
Phil. 1:8; 2:1
Col. 3:12
Philemon 12
1 John 3:17

Jesus —Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34;
Mark 1:41;
8:2;
Luke 6:36; 7:13

Aloof,
Uncaring
Luke 13:10-17

Humble in spirit

Humility
Prov. 29:29
Acts 20:19
Romans 12:16

Eph. 4:2
Phil. 2:3
Col. 2:18, 23; 3:12
1 Pet. 5:5

Matt. 11:29
Phil. 2:5-8

Proud,
Arrogant

         

Dave Jones

Dave works for human resources at Purdue University.  Dave and his wife, Becky, joined Faith in 1986.  He co-teaches the Ambassadors ABF as well as several FCI classes.