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D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.S is for Community

October 13, 2013

D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.

C is for Community

1 Peter 2:4-12

 

D = Devoted

I  = Imitator

S = Sacramental

C = Community

 

Intro:  We have read Romans and Ephesians together.  They and the other Epistles tell how the community of Christ, the Church is to live together – practicing compassion, forebearance, sharing, love, meeting needs, etc.  But this morning I want to focus more on the why of being the community of Christ.

 

We’ll start with some definitions.  The following were found on dictionary.com.

noun, plural com·mu·ni·ties.

1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.

2. a locality inhabited by such a group.

The first definition better describes who we are as Romans, citizens of Bradford County, Pennsylvanians.   The second describes a place.  Perhaps you’ll agree that these two really don’t get to the point of our being the community of Christ, but they do lead us to think about the larger community we cannot help but be a part of.  So when we get into the Scripture, keep the larger context of where we live in mind.

 

3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

Ahh.  This is a bit more descriptive as to who we are as the community of Christ.  We share some common characteristics, a few of which are described by the first three letters of what it means to be a disciple!  Time for another review!  D = we are devoted to Christ and one another.  Being devoted to Christ in this world today is enough to set you distinctly apart from the rest of the population.  Being devoted to one another should be something people marvel at. I argue that we aren’t 100% there yet and not sure I could tell you what I expect that to look like.

 

I = we are imitators of God.  When I look at the news, I do not easily see God or those imitating him in the forefront.  How encouraging those rare stories are of people doing a God-thing are!  But it shouldn’t be rare among us.  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should get caught imitating God more often than not.  I’m not talking parting the Red Sea, but loving God first and then our neighbors and putting ourselves in a place to serve others.

 

S= we are people of the Sacraments.  We are mindful of what God has done through Jesus Christ to accomplish our salvation.  When we witness baptism we remember our own cleansing.  When we participate in communion we remember that we are only redeemed and made worthy because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

 

If we are committed to just these three things, we will be distinct from the rest of the population.  And if we are distinct, people can see the light we reflect and be drawn to into it from out of the darkness. (Put the lighthouse up)

 

4. a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.

5. Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.

Here we are again.  This is a definition to guide us, for us to live into, that we would lead a common life according to a rule, a common code of behavior.

 

I think we know what we’re supposed to do and that the reason we don’t give ourselves to it 100% is because we lack the motivation to do so.  We love the world, a lot.  We like fitting in, a lot.  We like not making a stir, a lot.  So we strive and are content to look like that broader community than one set apart and distinct.  What do you think?

 

Let’s look together at the Scripture.  Peter is writing the church which has been scattered throughout the middle east.  It is speaks to all disciples of Christ living just like you and I are living now.  It is a passage of distinctives.  Listen to this description of who we are and of what we are instructed to do.  READ

 

Ready to dig in?  Here we go!  Stay on your toes, this might be a bit interactive!

As you come to him, Him, who?? Jesus! It all begins with coming to Jesus.  It doesn’t begin with coming to church.  It begins with coming to Jesus!  Without having a relationship with Christ, life in Christ can’t happen!  So that begs the question, “Have you come to him?”  Is your life in Christ?  Today, Judy has invited people to stay after for prayer, if you have not received Christ and God is tugging your heart today, then stay after and let someone know and they will pray you through that!

 

the living Stone  Who is the “living stone”?  Jesus!!  Peter carries this theme throughout this passage so hang onto that identity!

 

the living Stone —rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—

Humans rejected Christ.  Peter is speaking of those who arrested and crucified him and all who believe it should have been done.  That happened but the truth is that Jesus was chosen by God and precious to him.  God raised him from the dead and placed him at the head of everything so that Jesus ends up at the right hand of the Father, the most exalted place to be.  Listen to what comes next!

 

you also, Who does this mean?  You!  When you hear this phrase could your response be, “That’s me!”  Let’s give it a try!

 

you also, (That’s me!) like living stones, Would you look at that!  Jesus is the living stones and you also (that’s me!) are like living stones!  I feel something important about to be said!

 

You also (that’s me!) like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house

to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

Say what?  WE!  The living stones are being built into a spiritual house.  This is not just an illustration!  This is what is really happening in our midst!  Can you see it beginning again?  We have a great foundation, but the re-building has begun and it has begun with you!  And if there’s one thing a Christian Community should be, it is definitely a spiritual house!  Amen?

 

But that spiritual house doesn’t just stand; it has a mission.  You also (that’s me) have a mission.  You also (that’s me) are to be a holy priesthood.  Sit with that one for a moment . . . Being part of the Community of Christ involves being part of a holy priesthood!  Woah.  What have we gotten ourselves into?  More on that another time, but what I hope you take away is that belonging to Christ is significant.  It changes our identity, it marks us as God’s own for his purposes.

 

. . . Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, . . . “A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

There are two types of people in the world.  One to whom Jesus Christ is precious and treasured and one to whom Jesus is not precious.  Peter is addressing those in the first category and if you fall into that this morning, listen to what he says about being in that community:

 

But you also (that’s me!) are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,

If Jesus is precious to you, this is exactly who you are.  And we have been given this identity and all the privilege and blessing that go with it, in order to do the following:

that you also (that’s me!) may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. . . .

 

We are people of the light.  We are made to praise God with hearts of gratitude because we have been rescued from the darkness.

 

Concl. You also, (that’s me!) are called to be in this community of light, part of this community of stones that is being built into a spiritual house. A disciple is committed to community. Not just any community, but a community whose first ambition is to follow Christ and make his name known in the larger context so that, those who currently see Jesus as a stumbling block will come to know and worship him as the Son of God.

 

 

Benediction

The final instructions for the living stones, the people of light are this:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that,

though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.