"The Power of Togetherness"
If having a “personal relationship with Jesus” is so important, why do we need a collective time of worship? What is the benefit of being “together?”
The Power of Togetherness
A. In a research study done in 2018, people were asked about why they don’t attend a local church on a regular basis? They could answer about logistics, style of worship or several other categories. But the part that I found interesting was that 56% said they practice their faith in a different way then attending a collective worship service.
B. My point is, we often think that people who don’t attend worship are unbelievers, and while that is true to some degree, the research shows that a large number of people do consider themselves believers, but don’t attend a church with any regularity, don’t attend because they live their Christian faith is a way that, to them, is just as good as or sometimes better than, being connected to a local church family.
C. The phrase, “a personal relationship with Jesus” is one of the common phrases connected to the evangelical Christian movement in America. I get the phrase, but I believe it means many things to many people. We live in a high tech world where “social media” defines “personal relationships.” We live in a society where many people feel overwhelmed and lonely, a “personal relationship with Jesus” is sometimes states as a way to explain why collective worship is not high on my desire list.
D. This morning, I want to share what you already know. Our congregation often has the same people in worship and study and we have come to see each other as family. So let’s take a look at the power and joy that comes from living life together as disciples of Jesus.
I. Strength In Togetherness
A. I want to start in Matt. 10:1-4. Jesus calls 12 men, the first real assembly of believers in Jesus. Now what he does with that group is empower them. Spiritually have power to cast out demons, heal sickness and even raise the dead. Think of power they had.
B. But life in this assembly was not a bed of roses. Jesus told them that showing kindness through miracles there would make the world love them. In fact, he them there would be those who persecuted them. (Matt. 10:24-25).
C. Here is my point; life has its spiritual highs and lows. There are days we are on fire for the Lord and days when it seems like everyone is against us. That’s discipleship. That’s life. And I can’t do those emotional swings alone. I need to be in a community of people who live these words (Rom. 12:15) “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep those who weep.” The power of being together is the strength it gives to me to live life as a disciple of Jesus. It’s easy to let my emotions take me down, being with you is my “Five Hour Energy Drink.” Jesus knew that and the first “church” was not Jerusalem, but these 12 who lived life together centering on Jesus as their teacher and master.
II. Evangelism Happens In Community
A. I want to come back to our text from Acts 2. It is a text that many know well. We see how that early Jerusalem church devoted themselves to their spiritual health by listening to the apostles teach, by living life of serving each other in the church family, by remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as they broke bread together, and by spending time in collective prayer.
B. What I want you to see is the effect of togetherness. It is seen in the last verse (Acts 2:47). Their number grew daily. WAIT! Whose number? The number of disciples, the church in Jerusalem, was growing daily as a direct result of their togetherness. Their devotion to learning more about Jesus and living it in service and prayer was magnate that drew other Jews from the deadness of their spiritual life to the community of Christ.
C. Fellowship meals are great. Soup nights are fantastic. Canoe trips, youth rallies, fall fires, movie nights all are important to unity. And when the church gathers for the purpose of praising God and learning more, the world sees Christ as living in me. Evangelism happens in community.
III. When A Church Prays
A. Every disciple of Jesus is a prayer warrior. Every disciple knows that God hears our prayers and enters into this life in ways that still amaze us. It shouldn’t, but it often does. There is a power in collective prayer that helps those praying experience God in a special way.
B. This past summer, in my life group, we spent time in prayer about things that were important to everyone in the group. Let me tell you, we saw God answer those prayers in ways that God did not when we just prayed individually. I am not saying God hears prayer better when people in pray in groups, what I will say is God’s greatness is often seen more clearly to believers when they share the same prayer requests.
C. I cannot imagine what it was like for the church in Jerusalem as we read Acts 12:1-5. Talk about time when community was needed, Christians needed each other for emotional support and spiritual strength as their lives were on the line because of believing in Jesus. So they gathered to pray as a church. Luke tells us that God sent an angel to walk Peter out of a locked jail. He went to the house where the people were praying and they were too shocked to believe.
D. That may not speak to their faith that God would rescue Peter, but speaks to the fact that they needed each other and “hoped” that God would save Peter. Here is my point, praying together as a church changes us as much as changes what’s around us. It helps us to lean upon God and when we do that together it gives us spiritual strength.
E. There were times when the church prayed that very place of their prayer shook. There were times when the church prayed that Holy Spirit called people to do some mission work. A church that prays earnestly in small group or as a larger assembly experiences God in community. That has a lasting effect on how I live Jesus in my everyday life.
A. Here is what I know; Jesus told his disciples that upon the rock of living God he would build his church, his assembly. Jesus knew that living in community spiritually was necessary for spiritual strength and growth.
B. I know the Hebrew writer understood that importance of assembling. He reason was that together we could encourage one another in love and good works.
C. I know that when I am with you my life is better than when I am alone. Thank you for being a part of this family of God. Thank you for committing yourself to walking with me, praying with me, sharing life with me.
D. If you are here today and feel alone in life, maybe you came today because God had a message for you. That message of belonging and family is real. Let’s live Jesus together so that this world will see the Lord we love.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister