Compelling Community. Growing Disciples. Reaching Our Neighbors.

Connect Intentionally

Today we are kicking off a new sermon series: Holy Habits: 5 Habits for Spiritual Growth.

At the start of every year, I have it in mind to remind us of our mission and vision as a church. Last year, we did a series called “Every” where we dived into 8 statements that reflect our church’s values. I’ll be weaving those into this sermon series as well. This year I want to overview the 4 Key Priorities our church uses to help us fulfill our mission of “connecting people in compelling community in order to grow them as disciples of Jesus who reach our neighbors for Christ” Our four key priorities are Connect, Grow, Reach, and Worship. In this series, we will talk about a Holy Habit that goes with each of those, as well as a bonus 5th habit at the end of this series.

The best athletes never outgrow the fundamentals. Every good coach keeps the fundamentals in practice. In the same way, the best Christians never outgrow the fundamentals and I think a pastor does well to regular remind the flock of the fundamentals. Because the fundamentals are the most important.

If we neglect the fundamentals, we neglect what is most necessary to a growing faith in Jesus Christ.

So it is essentially we regularly remind, remember, reflect on, and recommit to the fundamentals. Annually is a good rhythm.

Today, we will start with Connect. My sermon is entitled “Habit #1: Intentionally Connect”

To help us reflection on the importance of connecting with others, we are going to turn to the wisdom literature of God’s Word, because here at Faith, we believe everything is centered on God’s Word, so in all my preaching, I strive to be centered on the Word of God.

I invite you to turn with me to Ecclesiastes 4:7-12, If you’re familiar with this book, you know the writer often calls things in this life meaningless. Vanity.

7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business!

 

There was a man all alone. This should immediately alarm us that something is deeply wrong.

When Adam was in paradise, before sin entered the world, God said it was not good that man should be alone. If Adam needed friendship and companionship in paradise, how much more do we need it in our fallen world?

This man is in spiritual danger. He is all alone. But, there is a better way.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

You might hear this text at weddings and that’s great. But this passage isn’t specifically about romantic love.The main point is that living intentionally connected, living in relationship with others is the wiser and better way to live.

We are better together.

This is true in a general sense, but I’m going to focus on how this is especially true of the church of Jesus Christ.

As Christians, why are we better together?

We complement each other in our common mission.

9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.

We know teamwork is important in sports, drama, the workplace, and even in our families.

Two heads, two skillsets, two temperaments, personalities, and experience are better than just one.

One of our values at our church is “Every Member a Minister” We believe the Holy Spirit has gifted each of you and that you have something of value to contribute that ministers to the whole body. Yes, I have my role as a pastor. But the truth we have all have our part to play as a minister to Christ’s body.

Are you playing your role right now? Are you using your gifts? Are you contributing your experience and wisdom to the group?

We are better together. Without your contribution, we aren’t strong as we could be.

I tell you every week: Go be the church. We are the church to each other. We are Christ’s body to each other. When we use our gifts, when we reach out to connect, when we strive to make a positive contribution, we are being the church to each other.

We support each other when we fall.

V 10 “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

The sage, the wisdom writer here is using the image of journey through the Middle East.

Falling in a pit or off a ridge/cliff was a real danger.

If you literally fell all by yourself, that would be extremely dangerous.

The same is true in our walk with Jesus.

If we fall alone, we are in real trouble.

This certainly is true if we are going through a trial, a time of sorrow, a loss, emotional difficulties, or other hardships.

We all know as we walk through this life, hardships come. But better to walk through a hardship with a friend for support than to try bear the burden all by yourself.

In order for others to help bear your burden, someone else must know you have a burden.

Practicing vulnerability with others is one of the healthiest things you can do. To let someone else know you are going through a difficulty. To ask for prayer. To let the Care and Prayer team know you need prayer.

This is the wiser way to live. We need transparent relationships with other Christians. We help each other when we fall, and we are better together.

We keep each other passionate for Jesus. 

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

Now again, the imagery is of a journey through the Middle East. Cold nights could be common. No sleeping bag or winter coat. Friends would have to lie down together to share their body heat to keep each other warm.

How can one keep warm alone? We aren’t use to thinking like a traveler in the Midde East 2,000 years ago. But this question is getting at the idea that its basically impossible. You can’t keep yourself warm. You need the warmth of someone else.

This is true for us spiritually.

We can’t stay warm alone. The body of Christ is meant to be built up together.

We spiritually protect each other.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.”

The man in the story of the Good Samaritan was beat up by bandits who left him on the side of the road. This was a danger of traveling. In that story, we aren’t usually aware that it was dangerous for this man to be walking alone. That’s what the wisdom writer says here. One person can be easily overpowered but Two can defend themselves.

 

We are BETTER TOGETHER.

We complement each other in our common mission.

We support each other when we fall.

We keep each other passionate for Jesus.

We spiritually protect each other.

 

This is why our key habit is to live intentionally connected.

How do you plan to live intentionally connected in 2021?

 

One of the habits we want to encourage is for everyone to be in a small group. We believe in the power of small group ministry.

It’s a community where you are complemented, supported, and protected. You are placed in relationship to other followers of Jesus so that your heart is warmed and passion maintained.

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