We are in the fourth week of our five week series Connected, a series about deepening our connections with God and others through real, intentional community. Pastor Mike and Pastor Katie both preached on John 15:18-25, but the Holy Spirit moved both of them in different ways with that scripture. Here is a summary from both of their sermons.
In Jesus’ last meal with the disciples, he shared both encouraging and challenging words with them. He encouraged them with affirmations that he loved them, chose them, and called them friends. He also challenged them with the truth that the world hates them because the world hates Christ. The hard truth is that there is another team on the field that opposes Christ. There is opposition oftentimes because the Gospel calls for radical change. The world encourages me-centered and consumeristic mindsets, whereas God encourages Christ-centered and others-centered mindset. When we become a part of the church, it becomes all about serving, not consuming. However, sometimes churches can become like country clubs, where the focus is all on what members want. Serving others and helping our neighbors is what it means to be the church. For example, last Wednesday night, our church had our first Neighborhood Table meal, where we were able to donate about 2000 diapers and wipes for Mercy House and a $1000 scholarship for one of its residents. In the face of a hostile world, Christians need encouragement to live like Christ. In intentional community, like small groups and Sunday School classes, we draw strength from each other, and they help us to live like Christ. In the midst of opposition, do not be surprised if you experience the love of Christ.
Our lives are made up of many compartments- a compartment for work, family, friends, faith, errands, etc. Sometimes when we pull away from the church parking lot on Sunday morning, it’s easy to tuck the “faith” compartment away the rest of the week. Jesus tells the disciples “If you belong to the world, the world will love you.” When we keep a wooden wall between our faith and the other parts of our life, we start to live as though we belong to the world. But, Jesus says he has chosen us out of the world and that we do not belong to it. We live in the world, but we are not of the world. We belong to Christ. Believing we belong to Christ changes how we live in the world. When we believe we belong to Christ, the wooden walls between our faith and the rest of our life start to develop holes in them. Our faith begins to be porous and permeate the other areas of our life. Our faith isn’t meant to be in a box, it’s meant to be porous and permeate all the other compartments of our life. We develop “holey” walls between our faith and life by believing we belong to Christ and living like we belong to Christ. Lastly, there is only so much Sunday worship can do to help us believe and live like we belong to Christ. We need intentional community to challenge, encourage, teach, and show us how to drill holes in the faith wall. A community helps us to connect our Sunday worship to our Monday reality. Through Jesus at work in us and the support of a real community, we can create holey walls between our faith and daily life.
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
- Have you ever experienced hostility or opposition from the world as you have tried to live like Christ? Share your story.
- In what area of your life have you belonged more to the world than to Christ? How is God inviting you to live like you belong to Christ in that area?
- Monday- John 15:1-8
- Tuesday- John 15:9-17
- Wednesday- John 15:18-27
- Thursday- Psalm 17:1-15
- Friday- Psalm 54:1-7