Last Sunday we stated that “connection” is one of the biggest needs we have as a church. The process of connection begins the very first moment a guest drives or walks onto our campus. First impressions are far more than “consumerism” or “marketing.” First impressions communicate to our guests that they matter to us and once they know that we then have the platform to tell them how much they matter to God. But connection doesn’t end with first impressions. Connection occurs when every person:
· Makes a personal commitment to Christ and is baptized
· Is grounded in their faith
· Is part of a caring small group
· Is involved in a ministry
· Regularly gives financially to the church and shares their faith
But along with “connection” we also need “community.” This is described in Romans 12:9-13. Community that genuinely shows a love that builds up one another must be:
· PURE (Romans 12:9). We are to love in a way that is not hypocritical. When it comes to showing love to each other in the church we are not to wear a “mask” of love. Our love must be genuine. We can’t pretend to care…we must care. We can’t pretend to be interested in each other…we must be interested in each other. When it comes to each other, we must abhor all that is evil.
· A PRIORITY (Romans 12:10). We are to be devoted and full of tenderness to each other. We are not just to be kind, we are to show tender loving kindness. One day a Sunday School teacher asked her class what the difference was between kindness and tender loving kindness. One child’s answer was priceless. She said that if she was hungry and you gave her a piece of bread, that would be kindness. But, if you spread a little jam on that bread, that would be tender loving kindness. We are to consider others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
· PASSIONATE (Romans 12:11). When it comes to being loving and devoted to each other we are not to lag behind in diligence. In other words we are not to shrink away from making it a priority. We are to be fervent in Spirit meaning that we are to boil over with enthusiasm. And most importantly, we are to serve the Lord. When we are devoted to each other we are also devoted to the Lord
· PERMANENT (Romans 12:12). When it comes to community we must rejoice in hope, looking beyond the temporal to the eternal. We are to persevere in tribulation by building each other up in the midst of trials. We are to be devoted to prayer with and for one another.
· PRACTICAL (Romans 12:13). Community involves practically meeting the needs of others. Community equals hospitality.