WEEK 3, CONNECT WITH PEOPLE
Today is a very radical counter-culture message. What I want to talk to you about this morning is the exact opposite of what you’ve been taught most of your life. But God promises that if you’ll do this, if you’ll do it His way that you’ll never again have to struggle with loneliness. You’ll be able to overcome things like fatigue and fear and frustration and failure. That if you’ll do what He talks about you’ll be able to handle depression and despair and have that replaced with hope. It is the concept of community. The idea of Connecting with People.
I. THE PROBLEM OF CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE
A. Some don’t like the Concept of community.
As Americans we idolize independence. In America we have the Declaration of Independence. We like songs like “I’ve Got to Be Me,” “I’ll do it my way,” “I feel good” by James Brown and more recent, De La Soul’s “Me, Myself and I.” and of course, “I want to talk about Me” from Toby Keith.
B. We like the idea of being Totally Independent.
We honor the Lone Ranger. We love the Lone Ranger, but the latest Lone Ranger movie wasn’t all too good. Of course even the Lone Ranger had Tonto but
II. WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT INDEPENDENCE
- God says that the key to happiness is not independence but inter-dependence.
- We need each other. We belong to each other. We need community in our lives.
- We need community in our lives. God wired you to go through life not as a solitary individual but in community. We talked last year about how the New Testament has 35 “one another” statements and we talked last week how we need to study the Bible in Community.
The Bible says in Romans 12:5 “So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” We need each other. God says community is not optional. You may not feel it. You may feel like “I’m very self-sufficient. I don’t need other people in my life.” But the truth is you absolutely have to have other people in your life if you’re going to be all God wants you to be. We need to connect with others in order to fulfill God’s call for our lives.
Today we’re going to look at why we need each other. We are going to look at what it means to Connect to People. Why we need God’s family specifically the five reasons God says we need other people in our lives and why we need to connect with a group.
At Impact we have men’s and women’s ministries, small groups, Wednesday in the Word, Youth groups and Children’s ministries…there are plenty of ways that we can connect to a group. Even our softball games are a great way to connect. If you don’t feel connected at Impact don’t leave so fast after church…hang out…meet people…go to lunch with the lunch gang.
III. What God says about Connecting with People.
A. I NEED OTHERS TO Walk__ WITH ME.
What does that mean? It means I need you to help me grow spiritually. Colossians 2:6-7 says “Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”
- Did you know that the Bible often compares life to a walk? Why? Because you’re on a journey. You don’t just sit still in life. You’re not where you used to be. You’re not where you’re going to be. You’re on a journey. So it calls the spiritual life, the Christian walk. Throughout the New Testament we’re told to walk in wisdom, to walk in love, to walk in light. We’re told to walk in obedience, in the Spirit, walk as Jesus walked. Many, many other ways the Bible tells us that we are to live life.
- But one of the key ways that God tells us to walk is this: We were never meant to walk through life alone. Some of you say, “what’s wrong with walking alone? I like waking alone. In fact, I prefer it. I can go at my own pace, my own speed. I don’t have to wait for anybody. Whatever. I like walking alone.” You may like it but you need others to walk with you.
Let me give you three reasons.
- 1. It’s safer. Walking through life with other people in your life is safer. You ever walk through really big problems by yourself? It can be scary to get stuck in sin and have no-one to help you out of it. It’s safer to walk through life with others.
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6:1-3
- It’s supportive. What I mean by that is it keeps you from giving up. When you’re walking with other people you get the energy from them. You start going, I can’t go on. I’m not going to be able to do this. I want to give up. But if you have other people walking with you, you can keep on going.
24 Let us think of ways to motivate (or spur, GK pä-ro-ksü-smo’s…like spring a horse) one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
There’s an old Zambian proverb that says, “When you run alone you run fast. But when you run together you run far.” Good words. Life is not a 50-yard dash. It is a marathon. The only way you’re going to make it to the end of life the way God wants you to is by having other people involved in your life.
If you’ve ever watched in the fall when a flock of geese are flying south and they’re in “V” formation. Do you know why they do that? Because it creates an uplift in the back draft and it makes it easier and they can fly farther and longer when they fly together.
The same is true in your life. You’re going to burn out in life if you go through it without any meaningful relationships. It’s safer. It’s supportive. Not only that but…
3. It’s Smarter . It’s just smarter to go through life with a few really close deep friends. You learn more by walking with others than you do by yourself.
Proverbs 28:26 says “Those who trust their own insight are foolish.”
In other words if I’m the only one who thinks this is right and nobody else agrees with me, guess what? There’s a good chance your wrong.
The Bible says this in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone.” That’s the first thing God said after He created Adam. Everything God had seen before that was good.
Hebrews 10:25 “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” He says you’re created for community and I want you to encourage each other by meeting together.
Connecting is God’s answer to loneliness.
The Bible gets very specific about this. “When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will… so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.” 1 Corinthians 14:26, 31 Each of us can contribute. Be part of something.
Why? Ephesians 4:16, “As each part (body of Christ) does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” That’s what God wants in your life and He wants it for all of us. That’s my prayer for you as your pastor. I want you to be healthy and I want you to be growing and I want you to be full of love. There’s only one way you can do that. You’ve got to get with other Christians to walk through life with you.
B. I NEED OTHERS TO Work WITH ME.
I need people to work with me. The Bible says God put you on earth to do a certain work that only you can do.
Ephesians 2:10 says this “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Before you were even born God decided the spiritual gifts and talents that He was going to give you. He even chose where you would be born, who your parents would be, when you would be born, and all of this. Because He has a purpose for your life and part of that purpose is He has some work for you to do.
Anytime you use your spiritual gifts or talents to help somebody else there’s a word for that. It’s called ministry, or service. All of us are ministers. Not pastors – ministers. What that means is when you use your Spiritual gifts and what God wired you to be to help others you’re doing what God wants you to do. He says these are your good works.
1. We get worn out when we Work all by Ourselves .
What happens here on earth though is you’re worn out. You’re exhausted. You’re burned out. Some of you came to church exhausted. Why? Because you’re trying to do it all and you’re trying to do it all by yourself. That’s why you’re worn out.
2. God never meant for you to go through life walking alone or working alone. You need to be in relationship with others who help you get done what you need to do. Otherwise you’re going to be worn out and fatigued all the time.
God tells us in the Bible why we’re supposed to work together. Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” They get more done by working together! You always get more done as a team than you do as an individual. It’s also a whole lot more fun. It’s also less tiring.
Individually it can get tough. Independently make a difference in the world. But together… in this church we can do something big. Together we can make a huge difference if everybody does just a little.
Connecting is God’s answer to fatigue.
If you’re tired it’s because you don’t have the relationships built in to support you that you need in what God has called you to do.
The Bible says this in Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” What’s the family of faith? It’s our church family.
I need people to walk with me through life and I need people to work with me through life, but also…
C. I NEED OTHERS TO Watch WITH ME.
I’m talking about people who’ll defend me, stand up for me, protect me. Who will help me keep staying on track, watch my backside, warn me. We all need this because we all have blind spots.
The Bible says in Philippians 2:4 “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
1. Have you ever seen these Neighborhood Watch signs? Sometimes you see them out in an area. That’s a sign of community. It says we watch out for each other here. My guess is if you went on vacation this summer, you were gone for a week, maybe two weeks, you probably told your neighbor you were going to be gone. You said, “I’m going to be gone for a couple weeks. Would you kind of keep an eye out on my house? Look out for my stuff.”
2. But my question is not is anybody watching out for your stuff. It’s is anybody watching out for you?
Your soul is a whole lot more important than your stuff. Is there anybody in your life who helps you stay on track spiritually? Is there anybody who loves you enough to say, “I’m not going to let you get discouraged. I’m not going to let you drop out. I’m not going to let you get tired. I’m here with you. Let me support you.” And they encourage you in your spiritual life. If you don’t have anybody like that, that’s sad.
The fact is we all have blind spots. Things we can’t see.
The Bible says in Hebrews 13:1 “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.” We should care about each other. We’re family. We’re in God’s family. As brothers and sisters I should defend you and you should defend me and I help you stay on track and you help me stay on track.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” That’s a small group. That’s a women’s bible study, that’s an accountability group, He says you watch out for each other.
Here’s my question. Is there anybody watching your backside? Anybody who’s watching out for your spiritual welfare? Do you have anybody close like that? Are you in a ministry where that group of guys if you’re a guy or women if you’re a woman, who are saying, We’re there when you’re going through the tough times. We’re not going to let you get discouraged. We’re not going to let you get depressed. We’re not going to let you get worried. We’re going to be here with you. If you don’t have anybody like that I pity you. You’ve got a big bull’s eye on your back for Satan. It’s like, “Here’s a loner. They’re not connected. They’re not in a group.”
Connecting is God’s answer to defeat.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
D. I NEED OTHERS TO Weep WITH ME.
To weep. I’m talking about they stay while I’m waiting for the bad news. And they weep when I get the bad news. I need people with me in the inevitable crises of life, when the tragedies hit. I don’t want to face that alone.
As your pastor I especially feel this one. I see it a lot. There are situations that nobody should ever have to go through alone. Nobody should ever have to wait in the hospital while a loved one is in a life or death surgery. Nobody. No woman should ever have to wait alone waiting for the lab report back on a problem pregnancy. Nobody. Nobody should have to wait for news from a battlefield alone. Nobody should have to stand at the edge of an open grave alone. Nobody should have to wait at home alone for the coroner to come and publicly identify the body of a loved one who just died. Nobody. Nobody should have to spend the first night alone after their husband has died or wife has died. Nobody should ever have to spend the first night alone when their wife has just walked out. Or their husband’s walked out.
The fact is some of these things are going to happen to you. Only a fool would go all the way through life totally unprepared for something that you know is inevitably going to happen. The time is now to build the safety net, the network of supportive friends. Get it in place now because at some point the tragedy is going to happen. You don’t know when. The time to prepare is now.
The Bible says this in 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”
1. We can’t make it in life without supportive friends and groups.
When you’re in the hospital you don’t want the whole church to visit you. In fact, it’d be kind of bad if all of us came. But it would be nice to have four or five come see you and say we’re praying for you. I was in the hospital and Jill was there with me. I called John and he said he was on the way…that is a friend and brother.
I’ve told you many times that I could not make it in life without my supportive friends and groups. We’ve been there to weep for each other and to walk with each other when we needed support.
2. Here’s God’s plan for Connecting, 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
I read recently about a guy who died at home in his bed and nobody discovered it for four years. I thought how tragic! That a guy was not even missed for four years. Can you imagine the despair in that man’s heart as he was dying in bed? Nobody should ever die alone. Nobody should ever have to go through that kind of despair.
Connecting is God’s answer to despair.
Romans 12:15 says “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” We do that in the community. Somebody has a good thing a promotion or celebration, a graduation, we party. We have a good time. We have fun. Somebody has a tough time, we weep with them.
In fact it’s usually when we start talking we get in trouble. We give stupid advice and stuff like that. Just be there. Sit there with them and sometimes you sit in silence. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says this “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
The fifth reason I need other people in my life is…
E. I NEED OTHERS TO Witness WITH ME.
1. I need others to have me fulfill my life mission.
What do I mean by that? You have a life message that God wants you to share with the world. It’s part of your mission.
2. The Bible says God put you on earth to do a mission.
3. God never meant for you to do your mission alone. God would never send a soldier out by himself. He says we go out together.
What is the way you witness best to people who don’t know the love of God? How do you witness best to them? God says it’s by loving others in the family of God. Jesus said in,
John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
We’re going to do it together.
Connecting is God’s answer to Fear .
What impresses the Community the most?
When Christians – believers – love each other.
The one thing that proves to the world that you’re in the family of God, that you’ve stepped across the line, that you’re headed for heaven is that you love other people in the family of God. If you do not love other people in the family of God you’ve got every reason to doubt, “Am I in it?” Because that’s one of the things. When you’re truly in God’s family you start loving others in God’s family.
Philippians 1:27 says “…You are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.”
That verse has the two goals of what we’re going to do.
First, deepen community within our church.
Second, deepen commitment to our Faith
We all need each other. We need other believers to walk with us, to work with us, to watch over us, to weep with us, and to witness with us. Say this, “I really, really, really need to connect with people.” That is your declaration of interdependence.
Of all the people that God could have chosen to be here at this time and this place He chose you. Chose you from birth to follow Him…
A. I NEED OTHERS TO _Walk_______________ WITH ME.
B. I NEED OTHERS TO Work WITH ME.
C. I NEED OTHERS TO Watch WITH ME.
D. I NEED OTHERS TO _Weep WITH ME.
E. I NEED OTHERS TO _Witness _ WITH ME.
Father, it’s time for the church to be the church. And it’s for us to get to know you, to learn your word and grow in our community.
Please begin it in our hearts. With all my heart, Lord, I know that our churches will start fulfilling God’s purposes together. When that happens we’ll see a new reformation in the church and a new spiritual awakening in our country. And God, we need it!