Word Alive! © 2022 Fall Series Connected! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor Tuesday, 1 Nov. 2022, Lesson 2, Part 2
Thom S. Rainer, Connected – My Life In the Church (Session 2)
Devotional Time: Thom S. Rainer, Connected, Chapter 2 (pp. 14-23)
Connected Together – On April 29, 1992, one of the largest civil riots in the 20th Century occurred in Los Angeles, California. The cause of this massive civil protest, was the result of a jury acquitting four police officers for brutally beating a citizen, Rodney King. In the aftermath of the great riot that rocked the nation and the world, people remember most, Mr. King’s passionate question: “Why can’t we just all, get along?” Rodney King died 20 years later in 2012. The challenge faced by the apostles was teaching believers to “share their lives, faith; and, to remain together, as representatives of Jesus Christ in a hostile world. The apostles were familiar with the teachings and admonitions within Scripture, which stressed the value of living in relationship (Read, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT). This ancient, yet relevant, verse of wisdom describes the benefits of being and working together:
(a) It warns us that, to be or act in isolation can be harmful.
(b) Being and working together provides support and protection.
(c) Remaining connected, brings personal and collective victory.
(d) We are stronger the more we are together in purpose and vision.
In his very instructive study book, Connected, Thom Rainer comments: “But unity just doesn’t happen within a group of people simply because they all decided to join the same church. Unity takes work. It takes sacrifice. It requires individuals who recognize they can serve as a unifying or divisive force within the body – [but] chose to seek unity.” While God doesn’t deprive us of our freedom to make choices; we are warned of both benefits and negative consequences. Joshua points to two different lands his people “could” settle in; however, the decision is made to lead his people to the land God has prescribed and promised (See, Joshua 24:14-15, NLT). Jesus describes two different roads a person can take in life; however, he points out the benefits of taking one, and the harm of taking the other (See. Matt. 7:13, NKJV). As Christians, we must seek discernment from God at all times; and we must work diligently to maintain unity with other believers. Paul assures us, that while we are connected through faith; we must remain “bound together” in the Spirit, and treat each other in a kind and healthy manner (Read, Ephesians 4:1-6, NLT). We can’t “all just get along” instantly, as Rodney King admirably desired. It takes work, and it’s possible! The togetherness of Christians is “living the love,” the Apostle spoke about when he addressed the Christians in the city of Colossae (cf. Colossians 3:14, NLT).
Connected Together, Part 2 – As Christians we are “called” to the fellowship we are a part of. The scriptures use a Greek term (kaleo) which means to be “directed” or “summoned.” While it’s true we make up our minds about uniting with a specific church or Christian fellowship; there is hardly any decision we make in regards to our faith, where God is not involved. Once we become connected to the body of Christ, we are definitely “directed” (called) to engage our lives in a manner God has prescribed through the Scripture. Paul told the Christians at Colossae, they were (a) to “live in peace;” and (b) to always “express gratitude.” (Read, Colossians 3:15, NLT). What is prescribed in the scriptures for Christians, commends moral and ethical behavior for both individuals, and believers as a corporate body. How we govern ourselves in the Church, is how we’re to act in every aspect of life. Jesus answered Peter’s question about the tendency to forgive others, by sharing a new paradigm. In ancient times, after a person was forgiven for an offense up to a prescribed number of times (often seven times); the offended party was released from any obligation to forgive further. Jesus said to Peter, in effect, you must always be prepared to forgive others who offend you. The equation Jesus gave (7 x 70) was not to be understood as an exact number of forgiveness; but it was figurative language, which expressed the importance of “forgiveness.” (Read, Matthew 18:21-22. NLT). The teachings of Jesus reverberated in the early Christian community, when Paul gave a strong teaching about restoring Christians back into the fellowship. Paul explains our connection with others should not wane, when they have committed some moral offense (Read, Galatians 6:1-3, NLT). Paul’s instructions emphasize these principles about the relatedness of connection:
a. We’re obligated to help the fallen.
b. Restoration and connection are acts of love and humility.
c. We neither condone the wrong; nor condemn the offender.
d. We must safeguard our actions and attitudes, lest we error.
__________________________KEY IDEA __________________________
What We Believe!
“We are connected and held together through Christ.”
1. We’re called to come together; and not to serve God in isolation. *
2. We are to build each other up; and not, tear down the other. **
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT
“Two people are better than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 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.”
Ephesians 4:1-6, NLT
“Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Making every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”
Colossians 3:14, NLT
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
Colossians 3:15, NLT
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
Matthew 18:21-22, NLT
“Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord how often shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”
Galatians 6:1-3, NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back into the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”
Colossians 2:18-19, NLT
“Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud. And they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.”
Ephesians 1:22-23, NLT
God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things for the benefit of the Church. And the Church is His body; it is made full and com- plete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself.”