We’re Better Together

We all are familiar with the old cliché, that speaks of best laid plans. Last week when I announced Thursday my plans to change the structure of my blog. Friday and Saturday went great. I had the Friday Five and a few spares too. Friday I got Saturday’s song written, including the guitar chords.

Then Saturday Cindy and I went to visit the granddaughters (and their parents) to celebrate the oldest one’s birthday. We ended up taking a detour on the way home, to the emergency room. I spent the rest of the evening there. I am OK. The E.R. doctor told me to go see my regular doctor this week.

So, I didn’t preach today, in fact, I have been at home all day, and before anyone asks, it is not Covit-19. So, since I didn’t preach today there is no sermon to post tonight. I did, however, find an old sermon I am going to share with you.

From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, to promote the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.

To Timothy, my dear child.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’m grateful to God, whom I serve with a good conscience as my ancestors did. I constantly remember you in my prayers day and night. When I remember your tears, I long to see you so that I can be filled with happiness. I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you. Because of this, I’m reminding you to revive God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands. God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.

So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about the Lord or of me, his prisoner. Instead, share the suffering for the good news, depending on God’s power. God is the one who saved and called us with a holy calling. This wasn’t based on what we have done, but it was based on his own purpose and grace that he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began. 10 Now his grace is revealed through the appearance of our savior, Christ Jesus. He destroyed death and brought life and immortality into clear focus through the good news. 11 I was appointed a messenger, apostle, and teacher of this good news. 12 This is also why I’m suffering the way I do, but I’m not ashamed. I know the one in whom I’ve placed my trust. I’m convinced that God is powerful enough to protect what he has placed in my trust until that day. 13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you heard from me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Protect this good thing that has been placed in your trust through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

15 You know that everyone in Asia has turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord show mercy to Onesiphorus’ household, because he supported me many times and he wasn’t ashamed of my imprisonment. 17 After I arrived in Rome, he quickly looked for me and found me. 18 May the Lord allow him to find his mercy on that day (and you know very well how much he served me in Ephesus). (2 Timothy 1:1-18, Common English Bible)

Americans, idolize independence. In America we have the Declaration of Independence. We like songs like, “I’ve Got to Be Me,” and “I’ll do it My Way.” We love the Lone Ranger and quickly forget the Lone Ranger had Tonto. But, we like the idea of being totally independent. We have bought into a myth that says the key to happiness is independence. If I have relational independence, financial independence, independence in every other area of our lives, if I don’t let anybody get too close to me but I’m totally self-sufficient, then I will be happy. And yet just about every year the suicide rate rises. The real key to happiness is not independence but inter-dependence. We need each other. We belong to each other. We need community in our lives. God wired us to go through life not as a solitary individual but in community.

In Romans 12 we read, “In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We need each other. Community is not optional. You may not feel it. You may feel like, “I’m very self-sufficient. I don’t need other people in my life.” But the truth is you absolutely have to have other people in your life if you’re going to be all God wants you to be.

Today I want us to start a journey on an even bigger idea. You can’t fulfill God’s purposes for your life by yourself. There’s no way. There’s no way you can be all God wants you to be, do all God wants you to do, fulfill the purposes you were put on this planet to fulfill by yourself. You have to do it in relationship to other people. We need each other and we belong to each other in the body of Christ.

One of my favorite all-time television commercials was by Cotton Inc. several years back. The commercial showed faces of children. There were white children and black children, Asian children and Native American children. There were boys and girls, one face at a time. Then the camera pulls out to show all these children with their teachers crossing a busy city street. The kids were hand-in-hand. Then a voice says, “We will never get anywhere unless we get there together.” I never figured out what the commercial had to do with cotton but its message was wonderful.

Tonight we are going to look at why we need each other. Why we need God’s family specifically the five reasons God says we need other people in our lives.

We need other people to walk with us. What does that mean? It means I need you to help me grow spiritually. In Colossians 2 we read, “So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught.”

We in the Christian Church often compare the Christian life to a walk. Why? Because we are on a journey. You don’t just sit still in life. We aren’t were we used to be. So we call the spiritual life, the Christian life, a walk. And, we were never meant to walk through life alone. This has nothing to do with whether or not we are married. We have lots of single adults in the Church who are very involved in deep, meaningful real community. There are also many married adults around us who are desperately lonely. Marriage doesn’t solve the problem, community does.

Some may say, what’s wrong with walking alone? I like walking alone. I can go my own pace, my own speed. I don’t have to wait for anybody. You may like it but you need others to walk with you. We need it because it safer. If you’ve ever walked down a dark alley by yourself, it can be scary. It’s safer to walk through life with others.

It is also supportive. It keeps us from giving up. We get the energy to keep going that we might not have otherwise. We sometimes say, “I can’t go on. I’m not going to be able to do this. I want to give up. But if you have other people walking with you, you can keep on going. There is an old Zambian proverb I love that says, “When you run alone you run fast. But when you run together you run far.” Good words. Life is not a 50-yard dash. It’s a marathon and the only way we make it to the end the way God wants is to have other people involved in our lives.

It is also smarter to go through life with a few close deep friends. You learn more by walking with others than by yourself.

Community is God’s answer to loneliness. We all need a place where we can practice love. It’s what the world needs. We need to learn how to love. Do you remember that old Diana Ross song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No not just for some but for everyone. Lord we don’t need another mountain. There are mountains and hillsides. Enough to climb. There are oceans and rivers. Enough to cross. Enough to last. ‘Till the end of time. Lord we don’t need another meadow. There are corn fields and wheat fields. Enough to grow. There are sun beams and moon beams

enough to shine. Oh listen Lord if you want to know. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love

No not just for some but for everyone.”

Second, we need others to work with us. Ephesians 2 reminds us, “We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.” We each have a set of talents God gave to us. I am not a mechanic. I know where the gas goes in the car. When it has gas in it and it won’t start or won’t keep going, I call a mechanic. For me it is just about that simple. I know a little more, but not much. When a mechanic uses his or her abilities to help me, it could be called a ministry. Not pastor kind of ministry. When any of us use our gifts, what God wires us to do, these are good works. They are also ministry.

There is a verse in Ecclesiastes 4 I really like. “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.” It makes life more fun and less tiring.

So many people fall for something in theological circles called “The Mother Teresa Syndrome.” That’s the idea that the lone person goes out to change the world all by themselves. Even Mother Teresa didn’t try to do that. She had an army of people helping her. Other sisters in her order helped her. Snowflakes are frail but if enough of them stick together they can stop traffic.

Individually we can’t make that big of a difference in the world but when we all stick together it becomes a lot of snow. It’s why SMACUM works. Together we can make a difference when everyone does a little.

Third, we need others to watch out for us in our lives. We need people who will defend us, stand up for us, protect us. We need people who will help us keep on track. We all need this because we all have a few blind spots. Philippians 2:4 says, “Look out for one another’s interest, not just your own.” That says, don’t just look out for your own interest, look out for others too.

Have you ever seen Neighborhood Watch signs? Those are signs of community. We could all use such a sign on our soul. We need people who help us stay on track spiritually. We need someone who says, “I’m not going to let you get discouraged. I’m not going to let you drop out. I’m not going to let you get tired.” We need someone who will encourage us in our spiritual life.

We all have blind spots, things we can’t see. You have a tail light out. You aren’t going to know it unless someone tells you. Hopefully someone does before someone in a uniform does.

Fourth, we need others to wait with us and to weep with us. Right about the time I started to seminary I had to have my gall bladder removed. Cindy told me how much it meant to her that the senior pastor of the church I was serving at the time waited with her while I was in surgery. I swore if I knew and there was any way possible no church member or other pastor’s spouse would have to wait alone while they were in surgery. We need people to wait with us.

We need people to wait while we are waiting for bad news. They weep with us when we get the bad news. We need people to be with us in the inevitable crises of life, when tragedies hit. We don’t, we should never want to face these things alone. As a pastor I see this one regularly. There are situations nobody should have to go through alone.

The truth is, these things are going to happen and at some point they will probably happen to you. We all have loved ones die. We all go through tragedy. We all get bad health news. We need other people to be with us. The time is now to build that safety net, the network of supportive friends.

Fifth, I need others to witness with me. You have a life message God wants you to share with the world. It is part of your mission. God never meant for you to do this mission alone. What impresses the community the most? When Christians love each other, the way we love other people in the family of God. “See how they love.” That is what we want here at this church and at Ryan Chapel. We should want to be known as the place where you get loved. It’s the place where you don’t have to be perfect but they love you anyway.

2 Timothy 1 says, “The Holy Spirit doesn’t want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and to enjoy being with them.” We’re going to do it together. God’s answer to fear is community.

Of all the people God could have chosen to be here at this time and place God chose you. Why? Because God wants to use you. God wants you here because God wants you to be a leader in this faith community. To be involved, and we can’t just sit on the sidelines.

NOTE: This Wednesday, Perritte Memorial UMC will hold a special service of Holy Communion on the Perritte Facebook page via Facebook Live at 6:00 P.M. Central time. You will need bread and grape juice (wine) for the service (We do have individual elements at the church for any who want them). We will have the liturgy online. We do ask that whatever you of the elements you do not consume, please do not throw in the garbage of pour down the drain. Either consume them (anyone may do so) or pour the juice out on the ground and used the bread to feed the birds. I hope you will join us, Wednesday night, 6:00 P.M. Central Daylight Time.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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