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Synopsis of The Joy of Community & Ministry
We’re about to slice a piece of the Bread of Life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from: You know that Stephanas and his household were the first to become Christians in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to other Christians. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to respect them fully and others like them who serve with such real devotion. 1st. Corinthians 16:15
Paul’s personal relationship with these intimate friends was interrupted because of his imprisonment, but his devotion and his love for them had not diminished. What is so important about devotion in the community? Because without devotion there shall not be enough respect to bond the community (fellowship).
David Jeremiah , in the introduction to one of his books reminds us:
“We should remember that it is from prison that Paul wrote to his friends in Macedonia.” Yet, notice that the theme of his letter is JOY.”
The word “joy” is found five times; and the expression “to rejoice with” two times in Paul’s writings in the letter to the Philippians. Even though he was writing as a prisoner, Paul was filled with joy that permeates his letters. The secret of his joy was his relationship with Jesus Christ. I remind you of what I’ve said to you before: “Happiness comes from happenings. Joy comes from Jesus”
Since the title of today’s message is: “The Joy of Community and Ministry,” may I jog your memory with a little physics; the second law of thermodynamics is known as the law of entropy. It states: “Things that are isolated move toward deterioration.” Well, entropy operates in the spiritual world also. Whatever is cut off tends toward deterioration. That’s why the ultimate punishment, Hell, is not defined by loss of consciousness or annihilation, but by utter and complete separation from the love of God, there is no life without relationship! And there is no relationship without devotion.
In keeping with today’s message, “The Joy of Community and Ministry,” lets us examine the love needed for joy to exist in the relationship of a community. I call these the “A’s” and the “D’s” of Joy in our communities.
There are at least five “A’s.” Let’s first talk about humility, which is, the Attitude of Love: Humble service is a dominant theme in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He imitated the greatest model of servant hood, our Lord Jesus who: “… but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7
Now, lets look at unity, which is, the Atmosphere of Love: Throughout scripture the word “saints” means “set apart ones”. But, take note that whenever the word saint appears in the bible, it almost always in plural form. This is a gentle teaching that saints are not meant for isolation, but for community. Secondly, Paul’s references to Bishops and Deacons speaks of the unity of assembly.
Also, I want you to notice the two greetings Paul exhibits, Grace, the greeting of the Gentile, and Peace, the greeting of the Jews. They are spoken together and also in proper order, for grace must always precede peace. As Dr. Alva Y. McClain said :
“A man may search and seek all his life, but until he receives grace through Christ, he can never have peace.”
Let us now look at Diversity, the Assignment of Love. Most of us do not find it too difficult to love nice people in an atmosphere of unity. But when it is time to love someone with whom we have nothing in common, then love can be a challenge.
Judson Edwards reminds us that our diversity is a gift from God, as he wrote:
“To love the whole world for me is no chore.
My only real problem is the guy next door.”
If everybody was just like me, the world would sure be a better place to be.
There would be no murder, for I’m not violent.
No stealing, for I’m not a thief. No adultery, for I’m happily wed.
No atheism, for I believe in God. No ignorance, for I have been to school.
Or, would it ? For if everyone was just like me,
There would be no merry-go-rounds, for I get dizzy.
No clowns, for I am self conscious. No doctors, for I hate blood.
No painters, for I am color blind. No mechanics, for I can’t fix anything.
Come to think of it… if the world was just like me,
It would be an awfully boring place to be !
Now we’ll examine – Intimacy, which is the Action of Love
In Paul’s most personal and intimate letter, to the Philippians, in only four chapters, we read over 100 references to the words “I”, “me”, and “my”. But, always with his feeling of affection. It is one thing to love someone, but, another to express that love.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” Philippians 1:3
Why not now consider Security, which is the Affirmation of Love. In communication with the Philippians, Paul remembered the long and consistent care they had provided for him; Describing that care as “fellow shipping in the gospel”
C. S. Lewis does a magnificent job of reminding us how to love.
“It would be quite wrong to think that the way to become loving is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. The rule for us is all perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we learn one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love them.”
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