Sermon: The Reality of Fellowship

Summary:  Fellowship is an integral, non-optional component of Christian discipleship.  
It needs to be both a theological and a practical reality, which is why we have taken a 
time that most have already committed to a Christian meeting, Sunday night, and 
made the purpose of this meeting to help more experience the benefits of a deeper 
Christian fellowship

Know:  It is important to be devoted to Christian fellowship because it is created 
ultimately by God

Feel:  The desire to grow deeper in fellowship

Do:  Sign up for a Small Group

Text: 1 Cor 12:12-26

Scripture Reading:  Eph 4:3-4

1.  At York College, lived in dorms, group of friends, always pranking each other
	a.  One prank backfired
		- Filled manila envelope full of shaving cream
		- Slid it under the door and jumped on it
		- It had gotten soggy, so it exploded out the back all over the hall!
		-  We had a lot of fun, we were like brothers
	b.  Looked out for each other
		- When one of us caught with bag magazine
		- When one of us tried to sleep in for worship
	c.  It was a spiritual experience too
		- In addition to church times, went to campus devotionals twice a 
		   week & club devotionals
		- Also had club devotionals
		- Traveled together on mission trips and choral trips
		- Plus, most of us were ethnically minorities - South African colored, 
		  Mexican, Cameroon, Half-Korean, and a Texan
	d.  For several of us that all went away when we left
2.  I have talked to people who long to have that sort of fellowship again
	a.  Some think it is unrealistic
	b.  Some think it is only luxury
3.  Text:  (Acts 2:37-47)
	a.  Acts 2 is presented sort of as a paradigm
	b.  They were baptized and became part of Christian fellowship
	c.  Components - They were "continually" devoting themselves to:
		- Education - Apostle's teaching 
		- Fellowship - Fellowship, breaking bread, all things in common
		- Worship - Prayer, praising God
		- Evangelism - Favor with the people, Lord added to their number
4.  This illustrates the importance and centrality of fellowship in our faith…why?

I.  It is a theological reality
	A.  Text says the Lord added to their number
		1.  It is the Lord's Body
		2.  Not a man-made organization
		3.  Whenever someone obeys the Gospel, he is family!
	B.  (1 Cor 12:12-18) - Paul points out the theological reality of fellowship
		1.  Reality:
			a.  (v.18) - God has placed each member in the body
			b.  Each person has an unseen connection to each other
		2.  Even if you don't "feel" the connection, it is still there
			a.  Reason - Because the connection comes from God
			b.  Jesus died on the cross to bring you to God
			c.  The theological reality of fellowship begins with Christ
	C.  ILL:  My Dad used to always say when traveling, if get in trouble, call 
	      the brethren
		1.  Happened to us once in New York
			a.  Broke down in Syracuse, New York
			b.  Called the church, and an elder got us to a mechanic
			c.  Fed us lunch and later we were able to get back on the 
		2.  I remember helping brethren passing through while growing up
			a.  Some had run out of money and needed a room
			b.  Some needed gas, or car repairs
			c.  Since they were brethren, we helped them
		3.  Recently, a brother came through trying to get to Utah
			a.  He needed Gas for his car
			b.  Had everything he owned in that car
			c.  Put him in touch with brethren in Utah
			d.  Got him on the road again
		4.  Why?
			a.  Did I "feel" a close connection like I did with friends at 
			b.  No, it is because of the theological reality
			c.  It transcends my "feelings" 
	D.  There is an invisible connection between all of us
		1.  Whether we "feel" it or not, it is there
			a.  Can't say, "because I am not a hand, I am not a part"
			b.  "Feelings" do not make you any less a part of the body
		2.  The Lord added you to the body, not man
		3.  **Problem with the Corinthian church?
			- Practical reality did not match the theological reality…

II.  (1 Cor 12:20-26) It needs to be a practical reality
	A.  The practical reality needs to be in line with the theological reality
	B.  Paul was pointing out an inconsistency in Corinth
		1.  If they were a part of the body, then their relationships should 
		      reflect this
		2.  They were doing other things
			a.  Evidently they were meeting regularly for worship
			b.  Evidently they were partaking of the Lord's Supper
			c.  It seems they were singing, praying, prophesying, etc.
			d.  But fellowship was lacking
		3.  In fact, their lack of fellowship was disrupting everything else
			a.  Some were a part of preachers' personality cults
			b.  Some initiating lawsuits with brethren
			c.  Some getting drunk at Lord's Supper with no regard for 
			     those who were hungry
			d.  Some people thought they were better than others 
     			     because of their particular spiritual gift
	C.  ILL:  Remember visiting a church in Biloxi
		1.  Right outside the back gate
			a.  Went for awhile, then quit
			b.  Wound up going to Division street church for awhile
		2.  What emphasis did they have?
			a.  Worship - They had three worship periods set aside
				- If you didn't come to worship, you got a card or 
				   phone call
			d.  Education - Had Bible Classes twice a week
				- Not as important - No one bothered you if you didn't 
				  attend classes.  
				- Sunday worship was clearly the important thing
			c.  Fellowship? -- Seemed to be optional
				- No meeting times set aside for fellowship
				- Nothing to facilitate fellowship
				- No teaching or leadership concerning fellowship
		3.  Felt like something was missing
			a.  I went to worship out of duty, but not regularly
			b.  Eventually, I hardly went at all
			c.  I never really got connected with anyone
				- I could blame the church, but it was me too
			d.  The only connection to other people I had was other 
			      Airmen from the barracks and in my class
				- We lived together, ate together, marched together, 
				    trained together, etc.
				- They were more an influence on me than me on 
				   I was on them
				- I started living like they did - worldly
		4.  All that began to change when I started to go to Ocean Springs
			a.  There I got connected with a bunch of other singles
				- Major Mariotti took us all under his wing
				- He was the AMEN coordinator
			b.  I rededicated myself to Christ with new energy
			c.  Met Kevin Owens, lived down the hall from me & was a 
			     brother in Christ
				-  We began to become an influence together
				- Always bringing a group of Airmen to church 
				- One married a girl in the church
			d.  The practical reality began to match the theological
				- We leaned on each other
				- We welcomed incoming Airmen who were brethren
				- We got connected with God as a group
	D.  It is important that the practical and theological match
		1.  If we are a the Lord's body and his family, how does it show?
		2.  Needs to go beyond doctrinal statements
		3.  Needs to be demonstrated in our lives
		4.**Brings us to our final reflection…  

III.  How well does the practical reality match the theological?
	A.  Our leaders were asking this kind of question
		1.  What was our purpose?  
			- Conduct worship services and attendance?
			- Is all that is expected is worship attendance?
		2.  Our theology "said" it was more, but what about our actions?
		3.  Has to move beyond doctrinal statements to doctrinal actions.
	B.  What about us?
		1.  We put emphasis on worship (worship services)
			a.  We thinking about what worship is
			b.  We planning on how to ensure it hits the bulls eye
		2.  Second, we have put emphasis on education (Bible classes)
			a.  We have a regular education program
			b.  Meetings to try and make it better
		3.  Third, we have emphasis on fellowship (Life Groups)
			a.  Like worship and education, we have devoted a meeting 
			     time to this
			b.  Communicates our belief that fellowship is non-optional
	C.  ILL:  Have you, or do you feel disconnected?
		1.  When we lived in Fort Worth we did
			a.  Went to church in Saginaw, Church of about 150
				- Friendly congregation, decent preacher
				- Attended Young Adults Bible Classes
				- Attended a small group, met once a month
				- Held expectations of something meaningful
			b.  Felt something was missing
				- Got harder and harder to attend
				- Never felt a real connection to anyone
				- Stopped attending small group
				- Stopped attend classes, worship attendance spotty
			c.  What happened?
				- Not that classes or preaching was boring
				- Small Groups needed to be more connected
		2.  Real Problem - We were committed only to attendance
			a.  We really didn't commit to getting connected
			b.  Our time investment was minimal
			c.  More significant, our emotional investment was minimal
			d.  This means that our spiritual investment was minimal
		3.  Like so many other things, you get what you put in
			a.  Biblical principle Lk 6:38 - Give and it shall be given to 
			b.  If you put nothing in, you get nothing out
			c.  If you put just a little in, you get just a little out 
	D.  Would you like the practical reality to match the theological?
		1.  Do you want to have a meaningful connection?
			a.  It may not be the same as living the college dorms
			b.  But it can be just as meaningful  
		2.  All the other pieces have been put into place
			a.  Jesus reconciliation into one body
			b.  Life Groups to facilitate
				- A place where meaningful connection can happen
				- A place where ministry can happen
				- A place where growth can happen
		3.  Nothing happens with no investment
			a.  If you bury your investment in the ground, get nothing
			b.  God invested the very best, what are you willing to invest 
		4.  Now the investment is up to you
			    If commit to invest emotionally and spiritually, you will 
			     start to experience what it means to be part of a "body"

1.  Jesus came to fix what was broken
	a.  Lives and relationships broken by sin
	b.  Relation to God broken by sin (Invitation)
2.  Remember, you are part of the "body"
	a.  Not just part of worship attendance
	b.  God wants you to invest yourself into his body
3.  Sign up lists are up, many still have not signed up yet