“Let Community Change You”

John 17:20-21

Life is full of challenges, and we cannot go it alone. In line with the trinitarian nature of God, He created us to thrive in relationships with one another. Without God-centered connections, we run the risk of feeling lonely and isolated. However, when we invest in intentional relationships, we grow into the people God wants us to be. 

We have been looking at all of the ways that God changes us by his grace and mercy. We discovered at Easter that the good news of Jesus’ resurrection has the power to change our hearts and lives because of his victory over sin and death. The empty tomb is proof that anything is possible with God. We also discussed how more than we read the Bible, the Bible reads us. Through observation and application the scriptures teach us and change us. Last week we learned that prayer is a gift from God that allows us to move from anxious people to people of peace as we lay our concerns at the feet of Jesus. Today we are going to look at how living in a Christ-centered community can change us and transform our lives. 

Have you ever noticed how some things just go better when they are together? Like Oreos and milk. 

What about popcorn and a movie? 

How about peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin, peas and carrots, or 

chocolate and ANYTHING. 

What may be perfectly good things on their own, become winning combinations when they are put together. As true as this principle is in these everyday scenarios, I believe it is even more true when it comes to the Christ-centered relationships we can have with other people. 

When we live in community with one another, we learn lessons and grow in ways that could not happen in isolation. I believe life is best lived when it is lived in connection with other people. I believe that we are better together. Think about your favorite memories from your past… chances are they are your favorite memories not because of what you were doing, but because of who you were with. There is something inside of us that knows that a shared life leads to a full life. 

The fact is, we are created for community. I think this fact is evidenced by the amount of time people spend on social media these days. From Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, we find that human beings are desperate to have a connection with others, even if it is through a computer screen or cellphone. We want to know people, really know people, and in the end, we deeply desire to be known. 

I believe this is true because it has been hard wired into us. We were created to be in community. We see this clearly in the creation narrative in the first book of the Bible, Genesis 2:18,  

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

We were created to share our life with others. In fact, in the very beginning of the Bible, when God created the first human being, He said that everything he had made was good. There was only one thing that he said was not good and it was that the man was alone. So, God creates a companion for him to partner with and to grow with. We also see this concept of community appear at the end of Jesus’ ministry. In the gospel of John, just hours before Jesus is arrested and crucified, he is praying in a garden. 

Of all the things Jesus could possibly be praying for in the final days of his life, he is praying for the community of people who would follow him. In our Scripture reading of John 17:20-21 Jesus prays not only for his disciples that were with him at that time, but he also prays for those who would come next; people like you and me. 

He does not pray for protection. 

Not for the defeat of the evil one. 

He prays for us to be one. 

He prays for unity. 

He prays for the community. 

Jesus knows that with all the things we would face we would need one another because we are better together. Jesus even describes the way we should be united… He says in the way that He and the Father are one. Jesus is describing the biblical concept of Trinity. The eternal, ever-giving, and ever-receiving community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

We have been created in the image of God who has existed from eternity past and will exist into eternity future in perfect relationship. Three distinct aspects of God and yet they are one. This doctrinal concept is a mystery to us, but it is a core tenant of our faith and a central piece of who God is. God demonstrates community through the way He relates to Himself, and it gives us a framework for our Christ-centered relationships today that help us change and grow. 

The closest relationship I have experienced on earth is my marriage. What I have found is that a marriage is not a 50/50 investment. Does anyone else experience this? This relationship that I have committed to is 100/100. We are to model the trinitarian God in our relationships to one another. We are to give and receive from one another each day of our lives. That is the way that we change. 

We help each other become more humble, sacrificial, generous, and faithful. Not alone, but together. 

In community we are called to carry one another’s burdens. This is what Jesus prays for hours before His death. 



He prays that as He and the Father are one, we would be one. There is real power in a Christian community that takes its cues from God on how to relate to one another with grace, mercy, compassion, and love. One reason that we are better together is that there is power in being able to say, “Me too”. 

Paul put it this way to the church in, Galatians 6:2, 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

One of the ways having Christian community changes us is by connecting us to people who can help carry the heavy load of life. There may be someone who has gone through what you are going through and can honestly say to you, “I know how that feels. Me too”. That person may be the perfect person to find help from in your time of need. I want to illustrate this for us. 

Illustration: (hand out note cards and pencils to everyone before the service begins) 

You each received a notecard in your bulletin. Please take the notecard and write on it, however you would like, 

“Me too”. 

I invite those of you to stand up if you have ever been anxious over something you have no control over. Hand your card to someone else and say, “Me, too.” 

I invite those of you to stand up if you have ever been divorced, hand your card to someone else and say, 

“Me too.” 

I invite those of you to stand up if you have ever had a bill you didn’t know how you would pay, hand your card to someone else and say, “Me too”. 

Stand up if you have lost someone you loved. Hand your card to someone else and say, “Me too”. 

Stand up if you or someone you know has ever been affected by cancer. Hand your card to someone else and say, “Me too”. 

There is power in being able to look at someone next to you and relate to them to help carry the load. 

Being able to say “I know how you feel”. Being able to say “I made it through, so can you.

Jesus knew that there would be things we would face, struggles we would have, challenges we come across that we could not face alone. So, he prayed for unity. When we feel that we are alone, when we feel like no one can relate, we tend to lose hope. But when you are in a community you find there are others who struggle with addiction, others who are praying for a wayward son or daughter, others who are recovering from the loss of a loved one, others who have doubts, others who struggle with debt, and amazingly, our own burdens become lighter as we learn that we aren’t alone in them. 

Real community is birthed out of intentionality. The early church is described in the book of Acts. 

It lived out the heart of Jesus’ prayer and the trinitarian relationship modeled in Genesis,  in Acts 2:42-47 it reads,

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

There was a deep sense in the early church that they needed one another. Over meals, during prayer, and by meeting the needs of people around them, they demonstrated that the life of faith is truly better together. God’s desire was for the world to see that this Jesus movement was not just another flash in the pan, but instead it was the beginning of something that would change the world. The unity of these new followers of Jesus was demonstrating to others that God was at work. When you look at the things mentioned in these verses that were resulting in the salvation of souls, it was nothing special. 

They were eating meals together. 

They were praying together. 

They were gathering together. 

They were experiencing the power of God in their midst, and they were making sure the needs of people around them were being met. 

Most everything mentioned here are activities that we already do in groups. 

You have friends. You spend time with people. 

But what if you did it with intention and with more purpose? 

What if you invited Jesus into those moments? 

Our intentional time spent together might just be the breeding ground for a God moment and life change. I am telling you to throw a party, invite friends to come and eat great food and talk about Jesus. Go shopping, but talk about Jesus as you do it. Form intentional groups to grow deeper in your faith as you change together into the people that Jesus has called you to be. Here are two simple ways we can do this. 

First, we encourage one another forward. 

This means that we want more for one another than we often want for ourselves. It’s believing that there is God-given potential for a full life within each of us. 

It’s being willing to say the hard things and receive hard things because that is how we grow forward. 

I am so thankful for the kinds of friendships I have had in my life that would not allow me to settle for a life that was less than God’s best for me. I remember like yesterday when I was in college and living with several amazing ladies. One night, my friend pulled me out on the back porch and called me out on some areas of my life that I thought no one knew about. It was a very uncomfortable moment. But I am incredibly grateful for it because without her willingness to speak into my life I am not sure I ever would have made the necessary changes in my life. I am a better person, wife, and mother today because of her. I believe that a good friend stabs you in the front. A good friend is one who cares more about your relationship with Jesus than they care about staying in your good graces. 

They care more about your spiritual health than anything else. We are better together because we are willing to encourage one another forward. 

Second, we are there for one another no matter what. This simply means that we are there when things fall apart, and the bottom falls out. When you get that diagnosis, when you get that phone call, when you feel as though you have no hope, to know that there is someone to come alongside you may be the very thing you need to keep going. 

As a pastor, one of my favorite things is to go visit a family or a couple in the hospital and find out that people from the church beat me there. I have seen individuals and families with needs that are met the minute they are made public by this generous and caring community. We are committed to being there. 

We look for opportunities to bring hope into the lives of others, and we take full advantage of the opportunities we get. We are better together because we become the hands and feet of Jesus, and we send one another out to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

So, who are one, two, or three people you could invest in for a more intentional community? 

Who do you know that could use a community? 

With whom can you invest your time and energy to make certain someone feels a part?

Invite them to enter into that with you. 

We are the hands and feet of Jesus. Let’s be intentional about it. 

Let’s Pray.