Today’s post is part of a series to help us take what we learn on Sunday into the rest of the week. These posts summarize the main points from the week’s sermon and include questions for continued reflection and prayer. The posts in this series are written by members of our church’s Adult Christian Formation team.
This past Sunday, our service theme was “God is Triune.” Pastor Bobby preached about the life we share together in Christ from the text 1 John 1:1-4. The basic message of his sermon was that joy grows through sharing Christ together.
In our society, many people are lonely and they long for belonging. But most people don’t look for that in the church, since they assume that the kinds of beliefs that churches promote only divide people. 1 John has a different take on things, that belief in the Gospel creates a community of joy, with Jesus as the shared foundation of that kind of community.
Pastor Bobby shared four key ways that the Gospel creates community:
- Confidence, rooted in our deep sense of security in what God has done to save us in Jesus. A mindset of insecurity and competition would normally make joyful community impossible, but the Gospel offers the assurance that we don’t need to prove ourselves. Because of what Jesus did, “You were saved 2000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem.”
- Vulnerability is displayed in the Gospel proclamation that God chose to become vulnerable in Jesus, who became human and was born as an infant. As author Brené Brown points out, vulnerability is necessary for true belonging in community. Jesus is our example for how to live that way with each other.
- Grace is modeled by the fact that God made the first move toward us in Jesus, being the “first responder” to our need for reconciliation. That in turn gives us the opportunity to be a community that makes the first move into the lives of others, taking the initiative to show the same grace even to people outside our own community.
- Wisdom is found in Jesus, since he is central to everything in life. If our community is rooted in him, it will be marked by the wisdom we are able to share with others about the way of life we have learned from him.
But what if all this doesn’t seem to be happening? 1 John 1:4 shows that sharing Christ with each other increases the joy in our community. By focusing on him and his work for us, we can become the kind of community that people long for.
The truth that joy is found in community, that “happiness is only real when shared,” is ultimately grounded in who God is: As three eternally-distinct persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) united in love, God is a fellowship of shared love, and through Jesus we are invited to join that joyful shared life now and in the age to come.
Questions for reflection and prayer
How did the Holy Spirit speak to you through this Scripture passage and sermon?
How would you describe the reality of Christian community in your own words?
In what ways has community with others in Christ brought joy into your life?
Do you recognize the fruit of Christian community (confidence, vulnerability, grace, wisdom) in our church? If so, how? If not, why not?
How did people who encountered Jesus and the early church respond positively to the kind of community that Jesus and his followers modeled? Have you seen that kind of positive response to the confidence, vulnerability, grace, or wisdom of followers of Jesus in your own experience?
Have you experienced the eternally-shared love and happiness among the three persons of the Trinity as part of who God is for you? How might that reality shape your experience of God’s love?