This week we kicked off the a new series called Connected, which is all about building strong, authentic community to grow as disciples of Christ. We are looking at what real community is, why it is absolutely essential for our faith, and how we can live in community. We are more connected now than ever before, yet we are still just as lonely if not more. In an article published last year, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former General Surgeon of the US, cited loneliness as one of the most urgent public health concerns, citing 40% of Americans reporting being lonely. How come in a world where we have the ability to connect with people 24/7 we have such a problem with loneliness? What does God say about loneliness?
In the second creation story in Genesis 2, God creates a human and the world and everything in creation is in perfect harmony. Yet, God says “It is not good for the human to be alone.” It seems that God created a human-shaped void in the human that God chose not to fill. Therefore, God went in search for the perfect partner and was not able to find one in any of the animals. Therefore, God created another human to live as a partner and companion to the human. While we talk about this passage a lot in terms of marriage, this story can speak to us in terms of community in general. We are not created to be alone or isolated. We are created to dependent on others. God created us for community. We are only fully human and fully alive through our relationships with others. God did not create us to simply connect with others but to be in community. Pastor Matt Tuggle at Highland Park UMC once said, “Loneliness is not solved by being connected to others but by being invested in others.” To be invested is to be engaged, to really know, and to care about another person. It is to be able to talk about the question “how are you really?” honestly with another person or group of people.
Real Christian community is the joining of two or more people who agree to live by the teachings of Jesus together. Whereas some groups focus on the passing down information, real community focuses on transformation. Christian community involves accountability and opportunities to grow deeper in one’s relationship with Christ. In community, we see, hear, and experience God in meaningful ways. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, believed that it was impossible to walk the faith journey alone. He said there is no such thing as a “solitary Christian.” We all need a group of believers to come alongside us to walk with us on the journey. Just as we are created for community, God, in God’s own nature is community. The Trinity of God is three persons in one and one in three persons.
In a world where we are more and more connected and yet growing lonelier and lonelier, the world is craving community. If you are feeling lonely or are craving a space for authentic community, there is a place for you here. There is no better community than inside the church. We have Sunday school classes that convene regularly with strong community, and we also have a new small group ministry launching on September 9 that we hope you will consider participating in. For more information or to sign up for a small group, visit: http://www.fumccolleyville.org/small-group-launch/
Monday- Genesis 2:4-14
Tuesday- Genesis 2:15-24
Wednesday- John 17:1-20
Thursday- John 17:20-26
Friday- John 20:24-29
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. Who are the people in your life you can honestly ask and honestly respond to the question “how are you really?”
2. What does “community” mean to you? What does it look like in your life?