What did Jesus say? And what Jesus said was that we’re to love one another. We’re to love each other in the same way that He loved us.
And I want to talk about how that happens. Give you a little picture of where I think maybe part of the problem is: Every Wednesday morning, we meet as a staff and pray.
I want to give you an idea of the kind of needs that are all around you.
The person says, “Pray for my sister who, a week ago, left her family, her husband, and her church.” “Pray for Denise. Her husband, Dave, was struck and killed while riding his bicycle Friday in Southern California.” “Pray for my husband, for deliverance from alcoholism and adultery.” “Pray for Kevin, thirty-three, he’s been diagnosed with serious cancer. He’s at Stanford Medical Center undergoing chemotherapy. He has three young children.”
And I know this is the tip of the iceberg. Well, what I know is a very small percentage of you actually have the level of need that you write down the needs in your life. My point, in the body, in the Church, in Christ’s body, people are hurting deeply.
Something else happens every week. It’s not a prayer meeting but something every week happens to me. I meet people, Tuesday night I met three hundred and fifty of them.
Circled around tables, praying, sharing requests, and I had at least a dozen conversations with people who said, “You know, after last week, loving one another, I am so excited. I just want to be used by God. I want to help someone. I want to do whatever God wants me to do.”
I met a family in our church Friday, at their business, heard exactly the same thing. I went to a parent’s night out, I met a fellow in between classrooms, told me exactly the same thing.
Now, here’s the question I’ve been pondering this week: Why are there so many people desperately hurting and in need of love, and so many others who are so willing and wanting to give love, yet so few who actually get loved?
See, I think that’s accurate. I think we have a pool of need in the body of Christ, that is massive. And I think we have a pool of resources and gift and willingness and love that is overwhelming.
But I think there’s a missing link. I think a lot of people with needs, and you may be one of them, don’t really get loved or get loved at the level that you need it, because somehow there’s a missing link. And what I want to talk about this morning is the missing link so that real love can occur.
You ask, “Well, what’s the missing link?” I think the missing link is six words. And at first you’ll say, “What?” but bear with me. Hang in there with me and see if you don’t track with me. The missing link is a little phrase right out of the Bible, out of Romans chapter 12 verse 5, “You are members of one another.”
That’s the missing link. The link, between huge need and incredible resources and willing hearts, is you are members of one another. Not intellectually, not as in, “Oh, yeah, we’re the body of Christ. Oh, yeah, we’re all related to Christ therefore, yes, we’re related to one another in some sort of mystical union in the universal body of Christ.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
I’m talking about tangibly, practically, viscerally. We are members of one another. In fact, one translation says, “We belong to each other.” So, here’s my thesis. We’re going to learn how to love one another but here’s the thesis: To fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another, as He loved us, demands that we understand our membership and our function in His supernatural community.
Now, I’m going to let you know why I call it that but when I say, “His supernatural community,” I mean the Church. But the word “Church” is kind of, when you say “Church” you know what your mind comes in? Walls. Buildings. Names. Pastors. That’s not what I’m talking about.
When the word “body of Christ” comes to our minds, I think somehow – very biblical, good term – but somehow it’s grown into this fuzzy, “Yes, we’re the body of Christ.”
What I want you to know is that if you understand who you are in membership, and you understand your function, and if you realize, if we realize we’re a supernatural community, things that we have in common, live life in community, in a supernatural community, it will transform your life and this group.
This series, I believe, is designed by God, by the living Christ, to move us from a theoretical concept of loving each other to practical, concrete, empowered, supernatural interaction with one another where, on a daily basis, in tangible ways, we move into one another’s life and give and receive love in such a way that we are in awe of who God is.
And I think the key, the prerequisite is to grasp your membership and function in God’s supernatural community.
The two questions I’d like to ask and answer is, “What makes it, the Church, a supernatural community?” And then the second I’m going to ask and answer a little later is, “What makes it authentic?” Or how do we function? The first one is doctrinal. The first one, I’m not going to teach Acts 1:1 through 8. I’m not going to teach it, I’m going to highlight it. And I’m deeply indebted to a fellow named Jim Dethmer, it’s one of the best messages I’ve ever heard.
And I want to highlight just the fact that we are in a supernatural community, the doctrine, what’s true of us?
Then I want to spend the majority of our time saying, “If that’s true, how do we function so that those with willing hearts, and those people with desperate needs, can be moved together by the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that deep needs get met, people who need love get loved, and people who give away love have something happen in them that is one of the most wonderful things in the world, God’s hand on you being used to transform other people’s lives?”
Acts 2 is the real beginning of the Church. It explodes on the scene. But Acts chapter 1 verses 1 through 8 is like the prologue.
It’s where Luke, the author, is going to tell his friend, Theophilus, now, “I’m writing this all down and I want you to understand the gist. I want you to get the skinny, I want you to get the behind the scenes so that when Acts 2, like a superstructure, explodes on the scene, you’ll understand that it just didn’t happen. It was planned.”
So just listen, Luke writes, “In my former book, Theophilus,” he’s speaking of the gospel of Luke, “I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day He was taken up to heaven.” So, the gospel of Luke was written, talking about Jesus in His physical body and His ministry there.
Now he goes on, “After giving instruction through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen, after His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs,” or miracles, “that He was alive. He appeared to them for over a period of forty days and He spoke about the kingdom of God.”
So, basically what he is saying so far is, “Now, Theophilus, I want you to get the background and the last book was about Jesus on the earth. This next book I’m writing, it’s a careful study, I’m a historian, and Jesus, after He resurrected, was on the earth for forty days in a resurrection body, and He taught about the kingdom of God. He did miracles, He gave clear instruction, He brought the disciples together that He had chosen, and He gave them a game plan about what He wanted them to do just before He ascended.”
Picking it up now in verse 4, “On one occasion, while He was eating with them he gave them this command, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you heard Me speak about.” He’s preparing them. They need to be equipped.
Reason: “‘For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So, when they met together, they asked Him hearing this, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?’” Is this the time when it’s all going to happen? Are we going to get our thrones? Are You going to take over the Roman government? Is this, is it, is it, is it, is it? That’s the idea.
He responds, “It is not for you to know the times or the dates that the Father has set by His own authority. But,” verse 8, “you’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Now, he is laying out, he has given the outline of the book, that’s geographically how the book outlines. He has said, “This was Jesus’ game plan when He came back in a resurrected body. He taught about the kingdom of God.”
Then what He did is the disciples wanted to know, “Is this going to fulfill my dreams, my personal agenda?” And He’s going to teach them, “No. I have a different agenda. God’s final culmination of the ages is up to Him. You don’t need to know that. What you need to know is you will have power and you will be My witnesses or My ambassadors to reach the world for Christ. Start where you are at Jerusalem, move out from there: Samaria and Judea.”
And the goal is that this message of the resurrected Christ, fully God, fully man, who died as the sin-bearing atonement, the penalty for sin, has been resurrected and the good news is forgiveness of sin is available to any human being on the planet who would receive and trust in His work on the cross. And He proved it by His resurrection.
Now, that’s the background. Here’s what I want to do. I want to now give you three reasons out of this text, without developing it, I’ll give you a few words to circle. You can tease it out this afternoon. Get a cup of coffee and do a little Bible study.
I want to give you three reasons why we live in not a human community, but a supernatural community. Reason number one: It has a supernatural origin. We’re in a supernatural community because it has a supernatural origin.
Let me give you four words to circle. First, the little phrase, “giving instruction.” Second phrase, “chosen.” Third phrase, “convincing proofs.” And the fourth phrase, “period of forty days.” I’d like to suggest that the Church is a supernatural community because it began with a divine command, gave instruction.
In other words, a group of guys didn’t sit around drinking coffee at a café in downtown Jerusalem: “Hey, Pete! What do you think? Jesus is gone.” “Yeah. Rough deal, huh?” “What do you think? What do you want to do?” “Eh, I don’t want to fish, do you?” “Yeah, I’m sick of fishing.” “Why don’t we start a church?” “Hey! Okay, what’s a church?” “I don’t know, we’ll make it up as we go along. We’ll just tell them the best stuff we can remember Jesus told us, and maybe something good will happen.”
That’s not how it happened! That’s not how it happened! The Church came about because there was a divine command by the resurrected Christ.
The second reason that makes it supernatural: It’s by a chosen group. It wasn’t their idea. Divine command and He chose a special group, a divine selection.
The third thing is it is authenticated by convincing proofs. Divine, supernatural power is what God had started. I mean, these guys were risking their lives to be identified with Christ, the resurrected Christ, means you’re going to get hung up by your thumbs by the Jews and maybe killed by the Romans. He had to do many miracles in that forty days so they would know, “Hey, man, this is for real.”
Fourth, it’s a period of forty days; it was in space-time history. This happened in real time. This isn’t a dream. This isn’t some foggy idea. It happened right there in Jerusalem. If you could go back in a time machine you would see the dust, you would see the people, you could see their eyes, you could have reached in and touched Jesus’ hands. You could have put your hands in His side.
This is not a spiritual kingdom, this is about the risen, resurrected Christ in space-time history, who lived, who demonstrated convincingly for forty days to five hundred witnesses, “The Church that you belong to is a supernatural community because it had a supernatural origin.”
Now, you’re involved in another community that produces something similar. It’s probably the most important community or the most painful community you’ve ever been involved in. It’s called your family, isn’t it?
What makes you a member of your family? Why is it that if I get a call from the East Coast, I’ll drop everything, get on a plane, even though I see my sisters or father very infrequently? They’re family. If there’s a problem, what would you do, what will I do? You go. Why? We have a common origin, don’t we? See, I want you to get out of and I want to get out of this fuzzy thinking, “We’re the body of Christ, isn’t that cute?”
And I want you to realize that just as you have a common origin with your mother, father, or just mother, or just father, and just as you know in your heart of hearts that if your biological family, even despite all the struggles some of you have been through that there is an obligation to honor them because they brought you into the world.
I want you to know the person sitting next to you, if he’s born again, if he knows Christ, if she knows Christ, you have a common origin. We have a responsibility to one another. Not in some fuzzy kind of way but in a way that is actually thicker and deeper than blood relationships.
Second observation, it has a supernatural agenda. Did you know what He talked about? The kingdom of God. You know what the kingdom of God is? The kingdom of God is very simply this: It’s when God’s rulership reigns. It’s when God rules and His will is being accomplished. Put another way, it’s when people are rightly related to God, rightly related to one another, and reaching out to people who are outside of kingdom blessing. That’s what the kingdom of God is.
And Jesus said it would move forcefully! He called you and He called me, in faith, to be rightly related to Him. Forgiven. Deposited with the Holy Spirit. And then to be rightly related to one another. And then in our love with one another, we reach out to Santa Cruz and over the hill and to Aptos and to Scotts Valley and to Watsonville. And when you get on planes, when you travel, and we, together, put our arms around and say, “God, use us!”
That’s the kingdom of God! We have a supernatural agenda. We have a mission! Now, many of you have developed incredibly close bonds in a human community, haven’t you? How many have ever played on a team of any kind? Go ahead, put your hand up, it’ll be okay, it’ll be good exercise. See, if your Secret is working or whatever that stuff is, right? pH Factor Just for Men.
You’ve been on a team, right? What happens on a team? It could be a jury, it could be a work team, it could be a softball team, it could be a team of women, it could be a team of men, it could be in junior high. I’ll tell you this, some of the closest, deepest relationships I have on the earth are people that I played college or high school or some sort of basketball or baseball with. Why? You got a common agenda.
What do we know from the NFL? Here are these, at times, steroid-filled bodies, three hundred and forty, massive strengths, they separate their shoulder, and what do they say? “I’m just going to tape it up and I’m going to get out there and play.” Why? “Because we’re on a team together. I can’t let the team down.”
You see, when you have an agenda or a mission that is bigger than yourself and you buy into it from your heart, it produces incredible bonds. Hey, we’ve got a mission that’s a lot bigger than winning a Superbowl.
Our mission is to reach all of Santa Cruz county and beyond. And we put our shoulders together. Now you know what? Guys play in games when they’re hurt. Women play in games when their tired. It means that you put aside other things and you say, “We have a supernatural agenda, we have a supernatural origin, we are a family, we are a team.” And you function like a team.
How do you feel about team members that only show up for the games and never come to practice? If you only come to the games and never come to practice, how much do you usually get to play in the games? Not very much. How apart do you feel of the team? Not very much. Who has the worst attitudes on any team you’ve ever been on? The people on the field or the people sitting on the bench?
I’ve spent my time on the bench. It’s just hard to believe that a coach could be as naïve and moronic to evaluate and think that those other players were actually better than me. I mean, being on the bench was one of the hardest things in my life to have a good attitude as a Christian.
You know where most problems come in churches? People are sitting on the bench; people are sitting on the stands.
People who have unconsciously a consumer mentality, “Feed me. You don’t have this for my children? Oh, you’ve changed hours? Oh, this is going to happen? Well, how come we don’t have donuts with the coffee? It would be nice if we had nametags. You know, it would really be wonderful if we could, you know, it was a little too hot that last weekend. You know, that one song was a little too loud but then next week it was a little too soft. You know…?” Been there, huh? That happens in churches all the time. You know why? They don’t got the agenda. And that was coaching talk, “They don’t got” on purpose.