Connected in Community by Purpose
Love, Longsuffering, Kindness, and a special purpose keep us connected in community.
Connected in Community by Purpose
When you believe the gospel you become part of the body of Christ. Your physical body is a great picture of how we are connected to one another. The scripture reveals that each one of us is a part of the body of Christ and each part has a job in contributing to the welfare of the whole.
So far we have learned that as a part of the body we are to contribute to the welfare of the body by our love for one another. When we treat each other with respect, see a need in a person’s life and then go out of our way to meet that need, everyone benefits. We are to contribute to the body by our long-suffering. When others in the body just don’t seem to get, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue to compassionately deal with brothers and sisters who just don’t seem to get it. We are to contribute to the body by our kindness to each other “Kindness the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are the currency of the body.” Love keeps us together; longsuffering keeps us together; kindness keeps us together and together we thrive, we grow up, maturing in Jesus who is the head of our body.
Today we are going to explore one more thing that keeps us together and that is a specific purpose. Fulfilling that purpose is our goal, it is our ardent desire, so much so that we are to be willing to sacrifice to achieve. We will discover what that purpose is and how we have been called to fulfill that purpose. By working together to fulfill that purpose we remain connected to each other. In fulfilling that purpose the body thrives.
Jesus told us exactly what we are to do as the body of Christ. “…seek first his kingdom…” (Matthew 6:33 (NIV). Seek first the kingdom of God, that is the purpose of the church, what we “the called out ones” are to be doing. We are to be bringing the kingdom to the world. As part of the body, your task is to establish the Kingdom of God within yourself so that together with your brothers and sisters we can bring the kingdom to those outside the body.
We need to figure out what the kingdom is. In the gospel, according to Matthew 56 times, Jesus speaks about the kingdom of heaven. Matthew wrote to a predominately Jewish audience who refrained from speaking or writing the name they knew God by, Yahweh, so Matthew instead writes the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus preached the Kingdom. All the signs, wonders and miracles He performed were to convince the people that what He preached about the Kingdom was true.
Matthew 4:23 (NLT)
Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom.
Jesus is asked by his followers to teach them to pray as he does. Jesus gives them a model, we call it the Lord’s Prayer. You may have heard it recited as Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Matt 6:10 (NIV)
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Yahweh, bring your Kingdom in all its fullness right now. We play a part much more than prayer in bringing the kingdom to earth.
When Jesus sent out his handpicked 12 he told them
Matthew 10:7 (NIV)
As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'
Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom. Jesus commissions His disciples to preach the good news of the Kingdom. As believers in Jesus, we are to follow His example. As a part of the body, we are to embody the Kingdom and in doing so bring the Kingdom to others.
In our culture today we have difficulty understanding what Kingdom means. We think of a physical place. But this isn’t quite right. Jesus spoke in Aramaic and the word translated for us as Kingdom actually means God’s authority and power. The Kingdom exists where God’s will is done. Every act of obedience, every act of love, longsuffering and kindness is a demonstration of the Kingdom
The hope of Israel was that one day God would re-establish the nation. Israel would once again become a world power. The Messiah, God’s anointed leader, would subdue the nations bringing peace and prosperity to all nations. People from all over the world would come to Jerusalem, the City of God, to learn of Him. It would be cool to be a Jew.
Daniel 2:44 (MSG)
“… the God of heaven will be building a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will this kingdom ever fall under the domination of another. In the end it will crush the other kingdoms and finish them off and come through it all standing strong and eternal.”
The consummation of this building project would be a righteousness that brought justice, decency, morality, harmony to the world. But God’s plan for bringing the Kingdom was very different than Jewish expectations as to how it would be accomplished. Jesus said that He was the kingdom.
Luke 17:20-21 (MSG)
Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, "The kingdom of God doesn't come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, 'Look here!' or, 'There it is!' And why? Because God's kingdom is already among you."
The Kingdom is near. Jesus is the embodiment of the kingdom. The way He lived His life submitted to the will of the Father is what the Kingdom is all about.
John 6:38 (MSG)
I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
The person who seeks to do the Father’s will with all their heart, mind, soul and strength embodies the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is within them. When the Kingdom of God is within you, you do the very same things Jesus did. Sacrificed to bring the Kingdom.
John 5:19 (MSG)
So Jesus explained himself at length. "I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does.
Independence is living according to egoism. Independence is living solely for the benefit of “Me, Myself and I,” valuing the things that I think are best. But in the Kingdom it’s all about community, all about living your life to the full in the company of the like-minded, living abundantly hinges on your obedience to God’s will and way.
The Kingdom of God is near you in the person of Jesus Christ. When Christ is in you and you are in Christ, then you are in the Kingdom. It is by the Holy Spirit indwelling you that Christ is in you, and you are in Christ. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when they first believe the good news of the gospel. Though I believe the path to belief is unique for each person there is a general pattern that involves acknowledging that your life is messed up, believing that Jesus can empower you to live your life to the full, and committing yourself to be a follower of Jesus. Then believing simply ask to be made right, God graciously answers your request.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (MSG)
God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
Don’t forget that last part of that verse “what he is destined to complete” for in it we will find the purpose which connects us. That’s where we’re headed but first, we need to address how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is only by being filled that we find the power to overcome the desires and behaviors that spring from “Me, Myself and I.”
In our series living in community, we looked at behaviors learned before we entered the kingdom of God that have no place within the body but that we drag in with us. The Apostle Paul addressed the problem by using the term “the sin nature.” The sin nature is egoism, that “Me, Myself and I” wanting everything that way I want it. Paul writes:
Galatians 5:16-18 (MSG)
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
When truth is revealed we make a choice. We can live according to our own whims, letting egoism dictate behavior, or we can live according to the Spirit of God that empowers us to obey. When we choose to walk with the Spirit, when we choose to obey, we are filled with the Spirit and overcome the behavior that is inconsistent with our commitment to being followers of Jesus. Your continuing choices to do God’s will allow you to be full of the Holy Spirit.
In the gospel according to Luke in chapter 4 verse 1, we read that after participating in John’s baptism, Jesus heads out into the desert full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit
Because by submitting to water baptism, Jesus did His Father's will.
Matthew 3:13-15 (NIV)
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
God’s desire is righteousness, that everything is as He created it, in harmony and working as intended. Jesus chooses to do righteousness, the result is He is filled with the Spirit.
If we continue reading Luke chapter 4, the Devil tempts Jesus. Every temptation is met with the choice to do things God’s way. The result:
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit…
If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit then simply choose to do God’s will in every choice and filled you will be. Desire to do God’s will and you are filled with the Holy Spirit empowering you to do God’s will.
Now back to 2 Corinthians 1:22 and that phrase “what he is destined to complete.” God reveals what He has destined in the beginning.
Isaiah 46:10 (NIV)
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.
What was made known in the beginning is the righteousness symbolized by life in the Garden in Eden: God the Creator enjoying a right relationship with His creation, the man and woman representing all of humanity enjoying a right relationship with each other, the earth yielding its fruit expressing the right relationship existing between humanity and the creation. What is still to come is a return to universal righteousness.
Revelation 21:3-5 (MSG)
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new.
On that day the Kingdom will come in all its fullness. Righteousness will be restored. No longer will there be a class of people we call the oppressed. Justice will be established for everyone. We will all know the truth and be set free in that knowledge. All things will be as God intended from the beginning. With longing, we pray: “Your Kingdom Come. Your will be done.”
Until that day we seek the Kingdom, by embodying the Kingdom within and bringing the Kingdom to others. This purpose is what connects us. When we are committed to embodying the Kingdom, living in the Kingdom, bringing the Kingdom to others every other agenda becomes secondary. Nothing is more important than the expansion of the Kingdom.
We are to ask ourselves—How does my choice establish the Kingdom, the rule of God within me? How do my words and deeds help someone else live in the Kingdom? How do I bring the Kingdom to others today? The answer to those questions is simply by loving, by longsuffering, and by kindness.
Let’s do what Jesus told us to do, and let’s do it His way—Let’s seek first above all other desires the Kingdom of God.