Sermon:  Life Together

Summary:  The Bible reminds us that God is love.  From the point of view of trinity, this means 
that love and fellowship are an inherent part of God's character.  Therefore, God intends that 
we, humankind, who have been created and recreated in God's image needs to demonstrate 
love and fellowship.  This can only happen when our worship, service, and fellowship extends 
beyond formal meeting times and into daily life.

Know:  Fellowship as God intends can only happen outside our normal worship times as we 
currently do worship.

Feel:  The desire and need to move beyond foyer fellowship

Do:  Sign up and commit physically, emotionally, and spiritually to a life group.

Text:  (Jn 17:20-23)

Scripture Reading:  (Jn 17:20-23)

1.  Spent time together this weekend at Dad's and Lad's retreat
2.  Nothing can take the place of actual time spent together
	a.  In Acts 2, the church met in the temple courts for worship
	b.  In Acts 2 - early Christians met spontaneously from house to house
	c.  Early church had many challenges
		- Persecuted, ostracized, ridiculed, beaten, put to death
		- They were often shunned by family, friends and neighborhood
		- Lose place in trade guilds, so livelihood was even affected
3.  Our challenges are not the same, but we still have challenges
	a.  Rather than being without, it often involves having plenty
		- We are all wealthy
		- We don't think we are, we compare ourselves to other Americans
		- By the world's standards, the poorest American is still wealthy
	b.  We are busy
		- We get so busy, we can forget what is really important
		- Like getting stuck on a hamster wheel, run, run, run -- for what?
	c.  Since we have plenty, perhaps the problem is laziness
		- You don't have to do a lot, and you will not starve
	d.  Perhaps it is friends, peers, co-workers, family
		- They don't persecute you, but they do make it harder
4.  There are two components for challenges to our faith
	a.  They were the same 2000 years ago, same now
	b.  They involve 2 things….
		- Relationship with God - Time in prayer, in the word, walk with God
		- Relationship to brethren - In being connected, we build each other 
	c.  We understand relationship with God, but with each other?  
	d.  Reason's why healthy relationships with each other are important:

I.  Discipleship happens in relationships
	A.  I am not sure that spiritual growth can happen in isolation
		1.  If it could, then Jesus could have passed out instruction booklets
		2.  What did Jesus do?
			a.  Jn 1:14 - He became flesh
			b.  He became a living sermon and example to follow
	B.  Examples of how this took shape
		1.  What was the call of Christ?
			a.  (Mk 1:17-20) - "Follow me" not "Read about me"
			b.  (Mk 3:13-14) - "Be with him" not "Enroll in a class"
				- How do you react to enemies?  Jesus showed them
				- How do you react to suffering?
				- How do you pray to God?
				- What is the nature of relationship to brethren?
		2.  Paul's exhortation (1 Cor 10:31-11:1)
			a.  Not, "Do exegesis and word studies on my epistles"
			b.  But, "Be imitators of me as I am of Christ"
			c.  Can only do this by spending time together
			d.  Paul always brought people with him to train
				- Showed them how to spread the Gospel
				- Showed them how to interact with outsiders
				- Showed them what kind of attitude to have toward 
		3.  (Lk 6:40) - A disciple will be "like his teacher"
		4.  Do you see a pattern here?
			a.  Spiritual growth, discipleship, life change happens in 
			b.  Can't really grow by enrolling in an internet course or 
			     correspondence course
			c.  Fellowship is necessary to discipleship
	C.  ILL:  I remember being a young teen (8th grade)
		1.  Looked up to the older guys in the Youth Group
			a.  Scott, John Ross, Greg
			b.  There was also Alan, an Air Force guy who took them all 
			     under his wing
		2.  They took some of us young guys with them to minister
			a.  Helping people to move in
			b.  Visiting a widow
			c.  Traveling to Youth Functions (Sabetha was one)
		3.  Alan taught the older teens who taught us
			a.  It really wasn't a "formal" program
			b.  A lot of what happened was connected with programs
			c.  But it was all natural, spontaneous
		4.  Same thing happened with gray heads and young people
	D.  What will it take?
		1.  Proximity
			a.  Need to actually be together
			b.  Foyer fellowship does little if anything for discipleship
			c.  Need to do as Jesus did - Be "with" brethren
		2.  Need to have a spiritual and emotional contract
			a.  Mutual accountability - As iron sharpens iron
			b.  We will look out for each other and support each other
		3.  Life Groups will help with these
			a.  Proximity - Being together
				- Be spontaneous
				- Enjoy each other
			b.  Spiritual and emotional contract
				- Look out for each other
				- I can lean on you, you can lean on me
				- We support, encourage, and be accountable
		4.  When invest self in Life Group - Experience the joy of Christian 

II.  Outreach happens in relationships
	A.  Jesus Chose not to singlehandly take the Gospel to the world
		1.  He left the task to the church
		2.  It began with the Apostles, and spread like wildfire
	B.  Several passages allude to connection of outreach and relationships
		1.  1 Tim 3:15 - Church is the pillar and support of the truth
			a.  Church - That is us, the people
			b.  We hold up the truth
		2.  Tit 2:10 - By our behavior we "adorn" the doctrine of God in 
		     every respect
			a.  What is adorning something?
				- When adorn your face, do you cake on makeup?
				- Put on enough to "highlight" features
			b.  When you adorn something, you bring out its features
				- God is good, love, kind, righteous, holy
				- Christian behavior brings all of this out
		3.  How Jesus said it -- (John 13:34-35)
			a.  Love is the greatest witness
			b.  Beauty of God in our love for each other
			c.  Intense care and connectedness was itself an outreach
	C.  ILL:  Man I knew - Armand
		1.  Wife became a Christian, he was opposed
			a.  Wife's behavior changed
			b.  "You brainwashed Barb"
		2.  Began to spend time among us
			a.  We were not some strange brainwashing cult
			b.  Saw that we had deep convictions
			c.  Also saw the deep connection to each other
			d.  We were truly a family
		3.  A year later, he became a Christian
		4.  Last time I visited, he was still there, and connected
	D.  God did not intend outreach to be for a few
		1.  Not listed as a spiritual gift in Paul's letters
		2.  The task was for the "church" - That is all of us
		3.  Not all of us in isolation, but together as a family
		4.  Life Groups is a place where we can demonstrate the beauty of 
		     our Lord and be a witness to him
III.  God's character is Reflected in Relationships
	A.  God is Three in one - Trinity
	B.  This means that God was never lonely
		1.  There is perfect love and perfect unity without humans
			a.  God didn't create us to satisfy some selfish hunger for 
			b.  He created us out of unselfish love
		2.  (1 John 4:7-8) - Love is of God, God IS love
		3.  We humans are made in his image
			a.  Our tie to each other has been tainted by sin
			b.  Ideal relation is unselfish love
	C.  (Jn 17:22-23) Jesus prays for the church
		1.  Prays for unity and love
			a.  Goes deeper than not being divided into denominations
			b.  Talking about a deep, intimate fellowship
			c.  When it is deep, it is a reflection of God's relationship with 
		2.  Why?  So the World will know…
			a.  Our deep fellowship is part of our mission
			b.  It reflects the very nature of God
	D.  Fellowship is part of being "godly"
		1.  It is not optional
		2.  This is why we have devoted a meeting time to a format that 
		     facilitates deeper fellowship

1.  God calls us to restored fellowship (Invitation - 745)
2.  God calls us to deep fellowship
	a.  Involves being Christ centered, learning, sharing, caring
	b.  Involves sharing life together, working together
	c.  One way to facilitate this is through Life Groups - Sign up