Sometimes, when it’s cold, my lawn-mower won’t start. So I prime it. Priming the lawn-mower isn’t really running the lawn-mower, it’s just the process of getting the gas flowing. The purpose of this presentation is to prime you. It’s to get your “thought juices” flowing about community. You won’t get all the answers here. You won’t learn everything you need to know about biblical community. But hopefully after watching this presentation, you’ll be thinking about community. And hopefully, those thoughts will lead to more thoughts, which will lead to action.
In the beginning… Whatever we study, we must start here; in the beginning. Here lie the initial answers to life’s deepest questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why does evil exist? What does the future hold? “ In the beginning…”
“ God created the heavens and the earth.” God spoke and it was. He spoke the light He spoke the separation of water and sky He spoke the land He spoke the sun, the moon, and also the stars He spoke fish, and birds, and land animals “ and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” God the Father SPOKE and God the Spirit EMPOWERED . “… and it was very good.”
” For by him all things were created” God the Son was the ACTOR . Whatever the Father spoke , the Son created . Whatever the Son created , the Spirit empowered . One God. Three God. Unity with Diversity. Creation.
God the Three-in-One intervened. Creation was very good, but it didn’t stay that way. Adam and Eve chose poorly. They chose to honor themselves rather than God. The result was a broken world. Relationships are broken. Nature is broken. Evil, pain, suffering, loss, and loneliness are the norm. A remedy was necessary. Women and men proved to be incapable of restoring the brokenness.
“ The Father sent the Son” God the Father SPOKE . “ The Holy Spirit DESCENDED on him…like a dove” It was like in the beginning. The Holy Spirit presided over the activity of the One-in-Three. He provided the power. He enabled the Son to do all the Father had spoken. At the end of his time on earth, Jesus prayed, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
At Creation: God the Father SPOKE God the Son enacted God the Spirit ENABLED At the Incarnation: God the Father SPOKE God the Son enacted God the Spirit ENABLED
<ul><li>The incarnation led to new creation. </li></ul><ul><li>The first creation was ruined by Adam and Eve’s sin. God’s plan to have a relationship with His creation wasn’t derailed, though. God the Son (at the bidding of the Father and with the power of the Spirit): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>became man </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lived sinlessly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>died unfairly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to eliminate the curse of sin </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We are the new creation. The Father decrees it, The Son enacts it, and Spirit enables it. </li></ul>
Spiritual Formation – “the activity of the Holy Spirit which forms us into the image of Jesus Christ who is the perfect representation of God” The Spirit ENABLES us to be the new creation. We are most human, most like we were made to be when we are like God. We were created in His image. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen Him. No one has. So, how can we be like someone we haven’t seen? “ No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”
“ God the One and Only” is Jesus. John wrote that the “One and Only” sits at the Father’s side. He wrote that the “One and Only” came from the Father. Jesus sits at the Father’s side. Jesus came from the Father. Jesus makes the Father known. Jesus shows us how to be like God. The Spirit that formed Jesus in Mary’s womb is the same Spirit that forms us to be like Jesus. That…is spiritual formation .
On our own, we’re hopeless. There is nothing we can do to be like Jesus. He was sinless, we are not. We are impacted daily by our exposure to this sinful world. We are constantly at war with our sinful urges that regularly rear their ugly heads. There is nothing within us that give us any hope of being like Jesus. That’s why the Spirit must form us. All we have to do… is let him. Jesus promised that the Spirit would do the rest.
Just before Jesus left his disciples, he promised that he would send another “counselor” to take his place. The Spirit he was sending was the same Spirit that had been in Him, the samd Spirit that had been enabling his earthly ministry. This Spirit would indwell Jesus’ followers, and continue his ministry in their lives, forming them to be like Jesus. Everyone who takes up the call to follow Jesus receives the Spirit. If you follow Jesus, you have the Spirit. Jesus’ Spirit is in you…forming you to be like Him.
You need to open yourself to the formative work of the Spirit. Praying, meditating, reading the Bible, memorization, fasting, contemplation, and many other methods can open you to the Spirit. He works through all these activities to make you more like Christ. But Jesus was/is most interested in seeing the Spirit form you through your relationships with others.
“ be devoted to one another”, “serve one another”, “accept one another”, “build one another up ” Before he promised the Spirit, Jesus commanded his disciples to “ Love one another .” This was a new command to them. They picked it up and ran with it. It became the foundational teaching of the church in its earliest days. When the apostles wrote letters to other churches, they often included ideas on how to love one another. They wrote: Loving one another is the conduit for the Holy Spirit’s formative work in our life.
After Jesus promised the coming of the Spirit, he prayed for everyone who would ever believe his message ( that means that if you believe in him, he was praying for you ). His prayer was very simple. He prayed that we would be unified . When the people of God are united to each other in love, the Holy Spirit can perform his formative work in a powerful and effective way. It’s really kind of simple. The Holy Spirit makes us look like Christ by using those around us to influence us in positive ways.
BUT IT DOESN’T END WITH US BEING CHANGED! Jesus changes us so we can change the world. When our communities influence us to look like Christ, the natural result will be that we assume Christ’s mission for the world. While he was on earth, Jesus accomplished two very clear agendas: He relieved suffering He redeemed sin
RELIEVING SUFFERING Jesus healed the sick, comforted the disheartened, cast out demons, and even rescued a poor wedding planner. He taught that those who suffered would be blessed in His kingdom. He sent out his disciples to follow his example. A community of true Jesus followers will find ways to relieve suffering in the world around them.
REDEEMING SINS No one but God can redeem sins. Jesus died to redeem our sins, and not just ours, but the sins of the whole world. We can’t redeem sins. But we can bring people to Jesus to have their sins redeemed. A community of true Jesus followers will find ways to bring people to Jesus to have their sins redeemed.
A community of true Jesus followers will: Be formative – within the community, individuals will be formed to the image of Christ who is the perfect representation of God Be caring – within the community, individuals will love one another by finding ways to meet their needs Be missional – together the community will enact the mission of Christ by relieving suffering and redeeming sin.
This is “Community”. It’s a collection of people sharing their lives with one another for the glory of God. God is glorified when we look like him. We look like him when we look like Jesus. We look like Jesus when the Spirit forms us. The Spirit forms us when we place ourselves into community. Once formed, the community engages in the mission of Christ. God’s new creation is a community. And it is very, very good.