Notes from Harry Fleming
Sharing Our Resources – Romans 12:13 - Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
• Community requires availability. You must not be too hard for others to reach.
• Community requires frequency. There must be plenty of time shared together regularly.
•Community requires sharing home and living space through hospitality with others.
• Community requires sharing our resources, and feeling a sense of responsibility to others. (partnership – Diane cooking)
Galatians 6:7-10 - Do good – your employment (reciprocity)
No consumerism in community
Commitment to show up
Sharing Our Beliefs – 1Cor 1:10 - I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
• Community requires a variety of practices:
• eating together, recreation and often attending church together
• learning together (Bible study, reading, and reflection in general)
• personal counsel, comfort, and specific accountability for behavior (need accountability lest we become self deceived)
• commitment to constant reconciliation and forgiveness (confrontation)
• deeds of service and justice and witness done together
• prayer, worship, and making music together
Focus on the Head and don’t split hairs
Jesus left us here after the ascension so that we would become one and so that THE WORLD MAY KNOW that Jesus was of God and that God loves everyone. (John 17)
Romans 12:4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
What is the prerequisite to become a member of this body or community?
There is only one! Faith in Jesus’ Gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This faith compels us to obedience and allows us to BELONG to each other.
Belong = I fit AND I’m possessed by/the property of.
Over the next three weeks, we will be talking about the 9 core practices of Biblical Community. We get these truths from all the “one another” passages.
Today, we tackle three practices are all about affirming one another
1. In Community, We Affirm one another’s Strengths, Abilities, and Gifts!
Romans 12: 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Be much more concerned to praise, affirm, honor, and celebrate others than you are to receive the same. Christians should be people who are quick to praise and celebrate what others have done, who love to praise, appreciate and make supportive statements.
We deliberately identify the following in others:
- Where they are growing and making progress. (Do you see them growing in their ability to handle problems, difficulties, and criticism? Do you see them growing in peace, joy, self-control? Affirm and speak to them about it.)
- What talents and gifts they have that benefit others. (Do you see them ministering in ways that benefit others spiritually? If you see a pattern to how they do it, is that a gift or a talent they should be cultivating? Affirm and speak to them about it.)
- Which sacrifices they are making to do the right thing, even though others may not be aware of it. ( Are they perhaps making great sacrifices to honor God? Notice the ongoing sacrifices and affirm their obedience.)
1 Corinthians 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Think about it from the reverse perspective: What would happen to your depression, anger, stress, anxiety, if you lived in a healthy community and were affirmed!
2. In Community We, Affirm one another’s Equal Importance in Christ
Romans 15:7 – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you”
When we are gospel-changed we can accept one another like Jesus accepted us. We are all so different. There are so many races, backgrounds… Some of us are “rich”, “poor”, “middle class” There are many things that the world uses to divide and separate us.
Galations 3:29 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ. There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring and [spiritual] heirs according to promise.
To Accept someone equates to becoming vulnerable (to allow in). To open up… If we are always “Alright or OK” when someone asks us, or we ask them, we will never grant them access to our heart… We keep them at arms length. Keeping someone at arms lengths KILLS COMMUNITY and diminishes opportunities to bless or be blessed!!!
1 Peter 5:5 “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another”
Pride is the exact opposite of humility and is another barrier to building community. In fact, it kills community and keeps you from connecting with others.. Pride puts us above one another. We we are prideful we overestimate our status, title, merit, abilities, race, etc… Pride causes us to always try to one-up each other… We should not be in competition with each other.
Humility puts others above you. The term “Clothe” in 1 Peter 5:5 comes from the Greek word “egkomboomai” which means to wear a servant garb that identifies you as being a servant. In biblical times this was the white scarf or apron of servants, which was fastened to the belt of the vest and distinguished servants from freemen. Therefore, 1 Pet 5:5 (“gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb”) encourages Christians to show their subjection one to another by putting on humility. Are we doing this?or are we FREEMEN?
Right before his crucifixion, Jesus removed his garments and put on a servant’s towel and washed His disciples feet. Peter said no! Jesus answered him, Unless I wash you, you have no part with in Me [you have no share in companionship with Me].
John 13:’34“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We can only really have community if we clothe ourselves with humility and love each other. This can only be fulfilled as we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
3. In Community We, Affirm one another through Visible Affection!
Communicate love and affection in a visible way.
Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. (in Christian Love) Affectionately greet one another.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.
James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
LISTENING is one of the best ways to visibly show your affirmation. Hearing vs Listening
1) Since you think about four times faster than a person usually talks, do you use this time to think about other things while you’re keeping track of the conversation?
2) Do you listen primarily for facts rather than ideas when someone is speaking?
3) Do you avoid listening to things you feel will be too difficult to understand?
4) Can you tell from a person’s appearance and delivery that there won’t be anything worthwhile said?
5) When someone is talking to you do you appear to be paying attention when you’re not?
6) Do certain words and phrases prejudice you so you cannot listen objectively?
7) When listening are you distracted by outside sights and sounds?
This year instead of asking what the Resurrection means to “Me”, we ask what does Resurrection mean to “Us”. To “Me”, it means that I am saved. I’m still living here. Now what? Why in the world does he leave us here?
After the resurrection, Jesus hangs out with them for about a month and then while they are all on the Mt of Olives, he says to all them, go to the Upper Room and wait on my Spirit to return to the Earth. They are all like..What the?! They were hanging with Jesus and everything was good. He was back. Yeah! He rose from the grave. It’s like…have you ever been with someone and they are talking about leaving and you are like ‘cool, lets go’ and then they turn and say…Uh you stay back here and hold down the fort.
What does Easter mean to Us? What do we do with all this going on? Look, we are all still here. Look at your neighbor and ask them, why did he leave us?
What does Easter mean to Us? There is so much of life going on. So much that we don’t like. And so much that we love.
Let me give you a super quick history lesson of Christianity over the last 2000 years. I use that term Christianity very loosely because only a few hundreds years after Jesus, most were not like Jesus, though did a lot in his name. At first, people were intensely obedient to God, went around the world and spread the gospel. Most were executed by brutal tactics. Then, Christianity became the law of the land with Constantine. There is a brutal, bloody rivalry between Islamists and Christianity. Then, things went dark. Then, the renaissance period, the reformation of Christianity, the new world, America. God blesses America and we see great success. Then we as a nation turn from God, though there are a lot of individuals living for Him. You were born. You were born in a culture that is so blessed and living well that people don’t even need God anymore. They don’t look forward to heaven. They don’t even need each other. In fact, we honor and respect the ‘self-made man’.
The ‘Community’ simply means people that live in the same geographical location.
The ‘Church’ means a place you visit on Sunday.
If you are a Christian, I believe this issue has to be looked at two ways. As a Christian and as an American. Yes, the majority of the founders of our nation were Christian. However, they did not imagine a world where homosexual marriage would be as big of an issue as it is today. Therefore, they left room in the constitution for gay marriage.
The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Christianity does not allow gay marriage. You can look at the Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and dissect the culture any way you want. In the end, the Old and New Testament does not allow it. Obviously, there are other religions in America today that allow it. I believe our constitution allows them to marry. This is a financial decision that has ramifications in taxes, death benefits, insurance, etc.
The constitution allows everyone to break each other’s religious laws as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of someone else.
Today, we begin what Christians call Holy Week. We are calling the Sundays that serve as end-caps to the week “Easter in the City”. We are approaching Friday when Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for the redemption of humanity. Next Sunday we celebrate the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In a few moments, I will ask the men of what I call my “70” to serve anyone in the room communion that is a fellow believer in Jesus. This is a tradition in the church that celebrates ‘the last supper’ or Passover.
When I think of all the cities of the world, there are so many beautiful, strong, and influential. They are all distinct because of their culture, history, economics, education, innovation and religion.
Personally, I have traveled to some amazing places in the US and across 5 continents (still waiting on Australia and Antarctica) New York, spent significant time Atlanta, 3 very memorable trips to DC, Sailed out of Miami. all unique. Been to Chicago briefly, many times to Big D and Nashville, spent a week in New Orleans before Katrina. Of course lived in Austin, lived a few miles from Santa Fe and Denver, vacationed in Salt Lake City, Phoenix, One of my favorite cities to visit is Los Angeles and been to the mighty Las Vegas a couple of times.
In 1994, I went to Mexico City (when it was deemed the largest in the world), Rio De Janeiro Brazil, spent 3 weeks near Paris France, and many of you have heard of my travels to Lagos Nigeria and hundreds of beautiful burgs and villes in between.
If we passed the mic around today and everyone was able to speak about the places you have traveled and lived, we could speak for hours about the meals, laughs, trials, and money spent in these places.
However, in my opinion, all the places of the world are on one plane and then there is one city that rises above the fray. Jerusalem. One epicenter of the world that when you enter that city you sense a power that is like no other city.
When you read ancient and recent history, no city like Jerusalem has captured the headlines and the imaginations of the world. Jerusalem was built Mt Moriah where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, later it became the City of David, the splendor of Solomon, Mt Zion, where Nehemiah built the walls, at the center of the town is where the Temple housed the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant where God resided and made himself known to man.
Today, Palm Sunday, we celebrate the day that Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem. Later, spent the better part of a week teaching and meeting with close friends, ate a final Passover meal with his disciples, prayed in the garden of gethsemane, was arrested and sentenced to death, was brutally tortured by the Roman soldiers, was nailed to a cross, hang for nine hours on the cross and then was taken down and buried in a garden tomb.