Commit to Community (Being Challenge)
March 3, 2021
Wired for relationships
The Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit exist together as a community of love. We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), so from the beginning we’ve been created for community.
Last week we looked at the different groups in Jesus’ life. How can we pattern our relationships after His? Jesus had 3, 12, 72, 500. Who are your 3, 12, 72, 500? (Don’t get hung up on the numbers – we’re looking at the principles underneath these numbers.)
Who are your 3? These are the people you allow the greatest access to your life through time and influence – perhaps some family members or your best friends.
Who are your 12? These people spend a lot of time with you and are very influential – perhaps family members, close friends, maybe even people in Crossfire.
Who are your 72? As the circle widens, you may think of groups of people, not just individuals – neighbors, groups at church, extended family you see once or twice a year.
Who are your 500? These are people in larger groups – classmates, co-workers, “friends” on social networks – may even include someone whose name you don’t know or can’t remember but that you see from time to time
One of the most beautiful trees in North America is the aspen. It’s an amazing tree – actually, each tree isn’t a single organism. A group of aspen trees, known as a “clone,” is considered a single organism. Underground, the root systems of acres and acres of aspen trees are connected. A forest of aspen trees is a single organism, each part supports the others by sharing nutrients. The taller trees catch the sun and send nutrients down to the smaller trees that aren’t in the sunlight, and the smaller trees pull the nutrients up from the soil and send them to the taller trees. It’s a beautiful picture – each tree needs the help from the entire community to stand out in its beauty and strength.
The aspen forest is a wonderful picture of Christian community. God has given each of us gifts and talents and has called us to share what He has given so all of us can represent Him more effectively.
Does your community inspire you to greater things?
Who can help? Identify people in your life who you see excelling in the 5 keystone habits. What could you learn from them about goals, habits, challenges and benefits?
There is probably no more important predictor of your future than to look at your present community. The modern definition of community is less about being from somewhere and more about being like someone. The closer you are to someone, you’re more likely to have the same habits.
Harvard Professor David McClelland tracked people and their communities over a 30-year period and discovered 95% of our success or failure in life is determined by the people we habitually associate with. It’s hard to form habits if we’re not in a supportive community.
If we become like the people in our closest community, and if we want to be more like Jesus, we need to consider whether our community is leading us to be more Christlike… or less.
Community done right: Mark 2:1-7, 8-12
Without friends, the paralyzed man could never have gotten to Jesus.
The Future You: Imagine your life ten years from now. List 5 things you would like to be true about “the future you.”
How do your groups of “3” and “12” affect you in the keystone habits?Who in your groups of “3” and “12” push you to be the “future you” that you want to become?
Alarming new studies show in the U.S. 70% of people are unhappy in their careers and aren’t motivated by what they do, and 98% of people die without fulfilling their dreams. For most people, their biggest regret isn’t something they’ve done, it’s something they didn’t do.
Many people are waiting on God to speak from heaven and tell them what they should do with their lives, but in reality, God has already spoken. We have the Bible – read it and you’ll find God has already given us many ways to live out our purpose.
- Psalm 82:3 – Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
- Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, o mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
- Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’
- James 1:27 – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
If you are struggling with purpose or community, consider this: God isn’t random. He has placed certain gifts and desires in you for a reason, and He has also placed certain people in your life for a reason. The community that you’re already in could be – and probably is – the place where your purpose is realized.
What really pulls on your heartstrings? If you had to live for a cause, what cause would you live for?
Identify 3 people in your world who are living for a noble cause.
What are specific ways you can join them?
Anxiety, depression, and mental-health issues have increased with the majority of people possessing smart phones. It’s becoming obvious among our younger generations that connecting in person is becoming socially awkward. Friendships online don’t require as much vulnerability, so most people settle for that. You can keep others at a distance, connect on your own time, at the level you choose, and bail out whenever you want. Adults have traded real in-person relationships for cyber-relationships too. We can do better… and we need to. Technology isn’t the real problem – we can use all the advances to build better relationships instead of replacing those relationships.
We are living in a different time and different setting, but the problem isn’t new. The author of Hebrews pleaded with Christians to have real, meaningful connections… Hebrews 10:24-25 We have to be in real relationships with other believers to encourage, support, love, forgive and accept one another.
It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of life and be pulled in many directions… if we don’t take time to get insights from other believers and give and receive love, we won’t be able to live the way God wants us to live. Time with one another isn’t optional.
Screen Time Check: Phone apps give you the ability to assess your screen time. How much time did you spend on your screen each day over the last week? What’s your average daily usage?
What are the top five apps you used, and how much time do you spend using each of them?
After your screen time check, what’s one change you could make that would move you toward more authentic relationships?
The sneaky enemy of individualism
The digital world can make us more isolated when it is our primary source of relationships… but there is another factor that builds walls between people… individualism. We’re not on guard against it, we usually celebrate it.
Individualism is the habit of being independent and self-reliant. Many are fiercely proud of their individualism, and as a result rely on their own strength, intellect and talent rather than working with others. We can believe we are more productive and deserve more credit if we accomplish something on our own.
Self-reliance is woven into the American Dream – anyone can attain success through hard work and sacrifice. The ultimate goal – status, fame, power, money, possessions… the promise says we’ll be happy and fulfilled, but will we? If we pursue them as the ultimate aim in life, we’ll end up empty, discouraged, and angry that life hasn’t worked out the way we expected.
In order to achieve happiness, many people sacrifice the things that bring meaning. When Jesus says “Follow Me” He’s asking us to trust His wisdom, His strength, and His direction instead of being self-reliant. The Good News of Jesus starts by examining ourselves and realizing we are flawed – even our best efforts fall short and the grace of God flows into our lives to cover our weaknesses. (2 Cor 12:9-10)
What plans could you make to gather with others (for fun, for spiritual growth, for projects/service)? What are your favorite ways to spend time with others?
Commit to One
Thomas Frank, an entrepreneur from Boulder, CO wanted to be more productive, so he set up a strict schedule. He decided he needed to wake up earlier so he set his alarm for 5:55am. As an added incentive, he programmed his Twitter account to automatically send a tweet:
“It’s 6:10, I am not up because I am lazy! Reply to this for $5 via PayPal (limit 5), assuming my alarm didn’t malfunction.”
That’s extreme accountability!
We need someone to speak into our lives to help us become greater followers of Jesus. If that’s our goal, we need someone to help us see things we can’t always see ourselves. Consistency and having someone to talk with can make an incredible difference in our lives.
Christian community, when it’s at its best, gives me the opportunity:
- to talk to someone consistently
- to share my heart and my struggles
- to hear God’s word of forgiveness when I have fallen short (James 5:16)
Every person struggles with something, and all of us need to be able to consistently talk with someone who will hear us, challenge us, assure us of forgiveness, and pray for us.
Consider who you could ask to be an accountability partner – someone who you trust and who you could speak with regularly.
- What is the habit you want to work on?
- How often would you check in?
- What would you like this person to do if you’re struggling?
- How will you celebrate successes?