Community Bible Chapel Podcast
5//19 A Different Way To Live – Living in Community
Jack has had a hard life.
-He grew up in a hard home
-Relationship with dad strained as Jack was always ridiculed.-That left him feeling like he never measured up and struggling to develop friends.
-His mom was an alcoholic and almost never home.
-Jack didn’t do well at sports and his studies suffered.
-He looked in the mirror and had a face full of zits and just stopped going to school functions because he was lonely in a crowd.
-Just awkward and never knew what to say or do around others.
-He graduated high school and got a job and life was routine.
-He would go home, watch TV, and go to bed.
-20 years later, he still had no friends and the loneliness was crushing.
Now, you might not recognize people like Jack because they they tend to blend in so you don’t even notice them.
-But if you took a good look at his life, you would see that he is longing for acceptance and friendship – something that resembles community.
-We hear his story and begin to wonder if there is any help for Jack.
-Does the Bible offer any hope for him – for us?
Today we continue the series A Different Way To Live
-We introduced the series with the Hope of the resurrection, and looked at A number of different issues that the Gospel changes drastically.
-Last week Ryan did a great job of helping us sort out how the righteousness of Jesus gives us a different way to live as we desire Him.
Today, we are going to look at God’s remedy for loneliness, which is community – specifically His community.
They begin with the Bible record and the first thing we see is that God created everything.
-And in that everything – God creates Adam and says “It’s not good for man to be alone” and so he created Eve.
-And gave them the ability to reproduce and fill the earth with a family.
-But then Adam sinned, and there was a tearing away from God and His family.
-Adam and Eve blamed each other and even God, which resulted in loneliness.
-And that sinful tearing apart continued when Cain killed Abel.
-Human sin is not only rebellion against God but also against the community we were meant to thrive in.
-Sin always breaks down community and puts distance between people.
-Over and over, we read about dis-unity, distance, and destruction of the community as God intended it.
-Then, out of the chaos of human nature, God pulls Abraham and calls him to begin a new community – a covenant community that is headed by God.
-It’s His community.
-And that ebbs and flows through history and eventually falls to our desire to live alone and destroy community in our selfishness.-We still see that today in our families and communities.
-We just can’t get along.
-Loneliness has reached such epic proportions that England has appointed a minister of loneliness.-An article in Time Magazine stated that in England, “there are more single person households than any other type.”
-It also cited the greatest risk factors for loneliness as “family breakdown and divorce” which automatically produce single person households.
-The largest lonely populations are the elderly, but loneliness spans across all generations.
-Social media is interesting because at the same time that it ties older folks to their families, it creates physical isolation in young people.
-Sitting alone, writing to 3000 friends they never see.
Now, with all that as introduction, today, we are going to venture into the book of Ruth and look at God’s solution to our loneliness.
I invite you to join me in Ruth Page 188 – You version (internet – CBC Guest)
-We are going to set up the story and then focus in on two passages that help us with this problem of loneliness.
The book of Ruth opens with hardship and difficulty.
-Elimelech and Naomi take their family and flee God’s community because there is a famine in the land.
-Shortly after they leave, their two sons marry Moabite women.
-Women who are not part of God’s community people.
-In the wake of one bad decision after another, Elimelech and the two boys die, leaving Naomi with her two daughter-in-laws.
-The decision to leave God’s community leaves Naomi all alone, with no community to help her – she is in the worst possible situation.
-Finally, destitute and lonely, Naomi makes the best decision she could make, she decides to return to Israel and God’s community.
-But in her bitterness, she tries to send her daughter-in-laws back to their Moabite community rather than introducing them to the community they all desperately need.
-We pick up the story in the response of Ruth in 1:16
“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”
-True community only develops in commitment.
-Ruth drives her stake in the ground and says
“I’m not leaving you.”
-Not only is it a commitment to Naomi, but also to her people and her God.-She makes a verbal covenant to join and stand with Naomi and her people.
-Our culture doesn’t like that kind of commitment, but the result is a lack of community.
-We leave our family, we leave our church, we de-friend those we don’t agree with and we promise to leave and move to Canada if we don’t get the right political party in office.
-No wonder our culture is starving for real community.
-But since we won’t drive our stake in the ground and commit to the community, we create our own lack of community.
The story continues and the two women enter into Bethlehem.
-They settle back into their family home, but are forced to depend on the kindness of the community.
God’s Community Provides and Protects To Reveal God’s Provision and Protection
-At the beginning of chapter 2 we are introduced to Boaz.
-He was a man of standing and a relative of Naomi’s husband – so he probably would have known her.-Since they had no food, Ruth heads out into the neighbor’s field to glean up what the harvesters missed or left.
-Gleaning was God’s provision for the poor in His community.
-Israel was instructed to harvest, but leave the corners of the field for those who were struggling.
-That would be akin to our church’s helping fund that the
Deacons use to help those who are struggling with life.
-And I’m so thankful for many of you who give out of your harvest to make sure that others are provided for.
-We collect that on the first Sunday each month and it’s a form of giving above the normal giving to the Lord that is not budgeted but used to extend the Gospel.
-The government does much to help the poor, but the Gospel doesn’t go with it.
-God calls His community to provide for each other as an extension of the Gospel message that goes with it.
-By God’s providence (God with us) Ruth ends up in the field of Boaz.
-In 2:8, Boaz gives Ruth instructions as to how to glean in his field as a way to provide for her and Naomi.
“My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here.”
-Basically, he is promising to provide for her as part of God’s community.
-As he continues to provide for her, v. 9 says.
“I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”
-Not only does God’s community provide, but it protects as well.
-As part of God’s community, Boaz takes it upon himself to
protect Ruth and make sure that others in the community don’t take advantage of her.
-He fights to give honor of the less honorable.
-Our Nation is torn in two by in confusion over who is oppressed and I amexcited by that states are working to protect the unborn.
-We might wonder if Boaz has ulterior motives?
-But he answers that and makes sure that Ruth understands his motives.
“May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
-Boaz explains to Ruth that it’s God who is providing and protecting you in the midst of His community.
-The book of Ruth is a picture of how God’s community should work.
-All we do in life should be to reflect the Gospel – the provision and protection of Jesus Christ paying for our sin.
-In Christ, we are provided for in His forgiveness and we are protected from Satan and protected from His wrath that is coming on those not in His community.
-As Jesus cried as he entered Jerusalem
“How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
-It does take two parties to be in community, and God has invited us into His community.
-Through faith in the death of Jesus, our sin is forgiven and we are adopted into His community, which is His family.
-God has done something amazing to solve our loneliness problem.
-He entered into history and walked among us.
Now, I’m going to return to Jack and the answer to his loneliness.
-Listen carefully, not so much for what Jack found, but to the ways you may need to drive your stake in the ground to gain all the benefits of living in God’s community.
Some random guy at work invited Jack to come to church with him.
-For the first time, Jack heard the Gospel message.
-That Jesus died for sinners and that God loves Him.
-Jack started attending that church because he was curious and also wanted to hear more about this Jesus, who loves him.
-Jack had never seen anything like it – all generations of people coming together and actually talking to each other and working to meet each other’s needs.
-It was amazing to see this community come together.
-They served to teach and disciple their children – and not just the parents.
-They were all involved.
-They served each other on Sunday morning in some profound ways.
-There was a single mom who some were helping get through school.
-There was a family who had a miscarriage.
-There was a family struggling with their marriage.-Some were struggling with how to parent or grow old.
-There was one who just lost a job and the community was helping.
-It wasn’t perfect, but the community was working to meet each other’s needs.
-There was a mutual commitment to what the community was about – sharing the Gospel both in word and in how they treated each other.
-Over time, Jack placed his faith in Jesus Christ and entered into His universal community.
-He drove the stake in the ground and was baptized and became a member of God’s local community – His church.
-He read in Proverbs 18:1 “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire”
-That speaks of a person doesn’t have friends because they are selfish, which results in their being isolated.
-Meaning they wait for others to do for them rather than getting out and investing their lives in the lives of others.
-Jack responded to that by joining a Life group.
-Over just six months, his Life group community had all kinds of things happen that the church didn’t ever hear about.
-There was someone in the group who was out of work and needed a job.
-There was another that had lost a loved one and they were there to comfort.
-There were all kinds of hurts shared and prayed over.
-The group found many ways to help one another by sharing the corner of their field with those in need.
-They opened the Word of God and explored the depths of God’s riches together – and challenged each other to grow in them.
-They served together and served each other together.
-Then Jack decided to invest in other relationship in the church.
-He saw a family – like the Misiewicz, that have taken it upon themselves to make sure that these kids grow up in a God honoring community.
-Singlehandedly, they have provided a community (can’t imagine what holidays must be like at their house).
-Jack decided that they probably needed some help.
-They had kids with special needs and some older ones who needed some attention.
-So, he got involved with this family and offered to help out.
-On top of that, there was another family that saw Jack and they sort of adopted him and gave him an open invite to come over anytime.
-So, he ate dinner at their house each week, played with their kids, and he just became part of the family.
-There was an elderly man in the church that Jack decided to visit.
-That turned into another relationship that grew deep over time.
Now, we could go on and on this morning, but I will leave it to you to write the rest of the story.
Jack decided to drive a stake in the ground and invest in God’s community rather than waiting for them to do everything for him.
-Finding community requires a mutual commitment.
-Loneliness exists outside of community, but in community, we are provided for and protected as the community reflects the Gospel of God’s provision and protection.
So, how are you going to grow in God’s community?
-Maybe it’s time to drive your stake in the ground and commit to God’s community and get involved in it.