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Faith overcomes our aversion to close relationships. We then discover the belonging we desperately need. Belonging creates a powerful force for change in our world.

Luke 5:18-26 (NLT) Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”

A Healthy Picture Of Community. Do you know how many people Jesus addressed directly as “friend”? – This guy. Think about it. If you were lame in the first century. There were no programs. No help. You were sentenced to a life of destitution. What did you have to offer the world? 

You see in poor cultures, friends are better than money. In Mexico, when they build a house, they do it with their friends. I help you, you help me. Friendship is its own wealth. And inversely, isolation is its own poverty. This guy, who had no money or ability to offer, had friends. DEVOTED friends.

This is what friendship looks like. If you want a picture of friendship. It isn’t talk. It’s action. It’s sacrifice. It’s risk. It’s “we”. While everyone around is “I”.

Our Need Is To Belong

Marriage, Family, and Real Relationships. We REALLY need to be known. We REALLY need to KNOW others. It’s one of the primary reasons we marry. Intimacy. Knowing and being known. We were created for relationship. AND, every one of us, extroverts/introverts doesn’t matter. We need to belong.

BUT, We Also Have A Desire To Hide. o for all of you that are arguing (violently) with me in my head. Let’s call it “The Fig Leaf Conundrum”. 

Genesis 3:9-10 (NLT) Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

Adam and Eve rebelled against God. When He returned to the garden they hid, from each other, and God, because of their shame. Their same, Isolated them. Isolation is darkness. Isolation is pain.  

Jesus’ plan to redeem us from that darkness was the Cross AND the Church. But not church as a place to go, give, or echo agreeable beliefs. Church as a community. Church as a family. Church as relationship.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Being known and loved is one of our deepest longings. But, the burden of knowing and loving others is one of our deepest aversions, because of the fall, sin, and our sins.

Our Strength Is Weakness

The Idea of Community is wonderful, but the practice of it requires something else. It’s only a church if people love each other. Practice loving each other. And that is the problem. “Love” gets no love.

John 13:35 (NLT) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Love being dismissed as a chief virtue is as old as the New Testament. In Greek thought, the chief virtues were wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. These were considered muscular, judicious, and masculine. Love was considered effeminate, irrational, and weaker. 

How did Jesus prove/demonstrate his love for the world? He died for the world.

1 John 2:2 (NLT) He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

Therefore to love is to suffer. Or, at least a willingness to suffer. Love is sacrifice. Love manages to capture all of the other virtues. Courage, justice, self-control, and wisdom are all fruits of love, evidence of love. Love is a Big thing with BIG implications! Yet, it is expressed in small ways. Love is small too. It’s most often expressed from person to person.

Imagine a community of believers willing to suffer for each other. Would you like to belong to that community? You speak of revolution. What of this kind of revolution?  A revolution where I stop trying to be everything I can be. And begin becoming everything Jesus can be in and through US.

Our Witness Is Relational

John 13:35 (NLT) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Our greatest Evangelistic tool. We could list, meetings, worship services, crusades, outreaches, social involvement. But Jesus pointed out the power of our love for each other. In our effort to Tell Them, Convince Them, and Fix Them… We have forgotten that our Love for Each Other, is how we Show Them! We forget that the invitation to Christ is also an invitation into a community.

Our Strategy Is Mission

Finding Community Is A Critical but Incidental. Think of how Jesus prepared His Disciples. We never see Him say stuff like. “Okay, fellas. Be nice to each other. Forgive each other. We are building a community here. So learn to sacrifice for each other.” The point, Jesus did not set out to build, what would be the ultimate powerhouse community, by teaching them how to be a community. What did He do? He sent them on Mission.

A community grows out of a shared Mission. If we focus on building relationships, it’s going to get awkward. If we all focus on and head toward Jesus, we will come much closer together. Not focus on agreeing, but on Him. If we pursue His mission together (next week) we find community together.

Talk About It… 

  • Have 3 people in your group read Luke 5:17-26 from different translations. Highlight any words or phrases that you find interesting. Discuss your selections with the group. 
  • Have 3 people share their own paraphrase of the scripture. Share what you learn from the passage. 
  • How do you imagine the man in this passage came to have so many friends?
  • Share some things that make it difficult to have real friends? 
  • Is it difficult to belong? Why or Why not? How could we help others belong?
  • How could our love for each other be a witness to others?
  • How would a mission pursued with others build better friendships?
  • What did you discover that you would be excited to share with a friend?