Coffee tastes the same with or without sand. It is better with sand and water and a beach chair as the sun expands over the horizon. But coffee tastes the same anywhere (or so I kept telling myself each morning of vacation).
There is something that is of greater consequence than the taste or experience of coffee. There is something each of us need to ask ourselves and answer ourselves, all the while looking at one another.
What would I do without you?
This Pandemic is For Our Good
There is the film Somewhere in Time. My parents like this movie because it takes place at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island where they spent part of their honeymoon. I like this movie because it stars Superman, also known as Christopher Reeve.
Superman’s character lives in 1980 and for rest and relaxation he heads to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. While there he walks their hall of history and is captivated by a picture of a woman from 1912.
He begins to research who she was and in so doing he falls in love with her. There is much, much more to the story so far, but he decides to travel back in time to meet her. Through self-hypnosis he does it, is successful and meets her in 1912. He woos her and they fall in love. One evening while with her, he reaches in his pocket to discover a penny from…1979. And he vanishes, back to his own time.
Christopher Reeve unsuccessfully does all he can to duplicate the time travel and get back to 1912. All fail and he ends up dying from what a doctor suspects a broken heart. I know, it sounds like a must see movie.
In recent months, the Cleveland Clinic has discovered a rise in cases not to the coronavirus itself, but a consequence of this pandemic. It is patients suffering from broken heart syndrome, one cause being isolation from friends and family.
Listen carefully. This pandemic is for our good (cf. Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). And by “our,” I mean us, our church family. In this pandemic is something for our good and it is something that is already happening among us. And it is something each of us need to ask ourselves and answer ourselves, all the while looking at one another: what would I do without you?
Watch Out…For Yourselves
As we continue in our study of the Gospel of Luke, I want us to go back in our study of the Gospel of Luke, but just a few verses. Listen and note carefully Luke 17:3. “Pay attention to yourselves!”
First, notice that this is something that Jesus is saying to his disciples. See Luke 17:1. So, this is something his disciples do, those who want to grow in their walk with Jesus and help others do the same.
Second, and this is a quick observation, those four words are the big idea of Luke 17:1-10.
Third, notice that these four words are a command. This is something that Jesus demands we do. Pay attention to yourselves. Notice the command. There are two parts to it. The first part is pay attention. Some translations read take heed or be on your guard or watch. And it is not defensive, like be on your guard against something. It is offensive, like be on your guard for someone. So, there is the first part and it is plural. It is not one of you do this, but all of you do this. All of you disciples, pay attention to someone.
Now notice that second part of this demand. Pay attention to yourselves. This second part is plural, too. So, all of you pay attention to all of you. I would like us to think of it this way: Each one of you watch out for each one of you. Each disciple is to watch out for each disciple. Think about it as a church family. We are responsible for one another. Look at one another. What would I do without you?
The context of the reason Jesus gives this demand is verse one. “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” These temptations are stumbling blocks, things which cause disciples to stumble. And these things are put there by someone. It seems these things are most often, contextually, false teaching or the mishandling of God’s Word by those teaching and handling God’s Word (cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3).
Why do we stumble? Often it is because we do not see the stumbling block. It is like a mouse trap. The mouse sees the bait and not the trap. Why? Because the bait looks good. So it is with us. We see the bait because the bait is good. We do not see or notice the trap. What then do we need? We need someone with us who sees the stumbling block. And we are to find this someone or somebodies within our church family.
So, How Do We Do It?
How then do we do it? How are we to make sure that each one of us is watching out for each one of us? We look to the Bible.
We look to the Bible and see that God has given us a pastor. See Acts 20:28-30; 1 Timothy 4:16.
We look to the Bible and see that God has given us deacons. See Acts 6:1-7.
We look to the Bible and see that God has given us one another. See Acts 2:42 and 1 John 1:7. We have fellowship with one another. This fellowship involves spending time together because we share life in Christ together. And our spending time together is to put truth into practice.
And we need to look and see that this is already happening among us. It is something that has been happening during this pandemic…for our good.
Calvary Community Groups
Currently, there are five of what I am calling community groups meeting within our church family. The word community comes from the word fellowship. These five community groups have happened naturally, out of need. One group meets to have breakfast together. Another group meets to connect with each other. Another group meets for Bible study. Another group meets to pray together. Another group meets to think through the Christian life together. These five groups are practicing truth together!
Notice that each group is different in function. But each group is the same in purpose: each one of you watch out for each one of you.
Beginning the week of September 20, I would like us to intentionally have more community groups. Intentionally means that anyone who calls Calvary Community Church home or their church or the pastor their pastor, would know and experience each one of you watching out for each one of you.
A community group will meet regularly with a schedule that bests serves the group.
A community group is to consist of two people or more and ten people or less. What happens when the group grows to ten or more? Praise God with a loud voice and start a new group. This is called multiplication.
A community group can meet in a home, at a restaurant or in the church building.
A community group is for two kinds of people: you and the unchurched (those without a church home or those who are not Christians). This is how a community group grows.
No group is to be same, but each group must do the same. Each one of you watch out for each one of you. What would I do without you?