Text: Genesis 1-2; Romans 14.12-14
Introduction: We’re in Genesis 1-3 and Romans 14 this morning. We’ll start w/ the Genesis passage – go to Romans 14 for a moment and then come back to Genesis.
I performed a wedding this week and I always try to start the wedding ceremony in Genesis 1 and creation. You see, God created marriage and for the Christian, that is important. If you’ve ever wondered why Christians are so up in arms about marriage, it isn’t because we hate anyone. It’s because we see the world messing with what God has created.
Well, I was reminded in preparing for that ceremony of something incredible; rd Gen 1.26-27; 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Here’s where I am going with this: God is plural – Elohim; Elohim said, Let ‘us’ make man in ‘our’ image, after ‘our’ likeness. The Triune God created a single man to be like the Triune God – his image, his likeness. Don’t you find that fascinating?
If you’re thinking to yourself that you just don’t get it. Well, that’s ok! No one does. There are a lot of people smarter than you and me who’ve never been able to process that!
So God creates a man and he creates him incomplete. A plural God. A Single man. God has created so much in the 1st 6 days and proclaims it is all good. But, when he creates the man and sees him working alone in the garden, God says, “it is not good for man to be alone.”
Now I’ve always taken that and understood that in the context of marriage. But, I want you to see that there is even more there that we can learn from the creation account. Three lessons of community in creation:
- Lesson 1: The Trinity is a model for us. God has set for us an example of community in Himself.
- Lesson 2, Man, that is, mankind, was created for relationships. He was created to exist within the context of community.
- And Lesson 3, whereas God is the perfect example for us of what Community looks like through the Trinity, we have corrupted the opportunity for perfect community through our sinfulness.
t.s.: Let’s begin with this 1st Lesson…
I. The Trinity is our model for Community (Genesis 1, 2)
exp.: We saw in Genesis 1 the Three in One at work. They are not independent of each other and they are not co-dependent on each other. They are interdependent – each functioning within the other. One writer commented on such unity and interdependence that it something like God (Father) speaks and The Word of God (Jesus) creates. The Holy Spirit is the breath of the One who is speaking. Perfect Unity and yet, Three persons.
ill.: Julie Gorman, author of Community that is Christian writes: Community is rooted in the very nature of God’s personhood and, therefore, existed before creation. Consider this: we understand our God as one God and yet he is expressed to us in three persons. Talk about perfect unity! So perfect are they and their unity that when Philip asked to see the father, Jesus said if you’ve seen me, you seen the father.
ill.: To be fair, this is mind blowing. No rational, logical person can truly wrap his mind around this concept. Listen to A.W. Tozer: Our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption. Wow! That is deep what Tozer is saying is that we as humans will never be able to totally comprehend the Trinity. And if we do think that we have–we’re in deep trouble! No one can truly comprehend God.
app.: But we can begin to understand what he has made known to us. And what we know, what we understand is that God created us in his image. In other words, we were created to exist in relationships; we were created to exist in community.
I love in the next chapter in Genesis; God sees that the man he has made is alone. And he says – it is not good for man to be alone. I’ll make a helper suitable for him. He created, he fashioned a woman to be in relationship with the man.
t.s.: So, we see the Trinity is our model for community. But what exactly does that mean for us? What is the implication?
Implication: Because of this (The Trinity is our Model for Community), then Community is not a program.
- Community is not a program.
ill.: Joy & Shelton, in their book The People of God: The only thing strong enough to build and sustain Christian Community is the gospel and the refuge found therein. Demographics, money, location, shared interests, curriculum, or good causes will not create the deep, true community for which God designed us.
exp.: just like marriage isn’t a program; raising your children isn’t a program; it is real life. Church isn’t supposed to be a program. And sure, you can be a part of organizations that do good things, but the Church was designed to be more than just a civic organization. It is designed to be a community.
app.: 1st, the Trinity is our Model for Community and the implications is that Community, then, isn’t a program.
t.s.: 2nd lesson, we see…
II. Humans were created for Community.
exp.: You were created for community. You were created for relationships. As you begin to understand the Trinity is our model for community, you then need to wrap your mind around the truth that God is completely and perfectly happy in Himself. It is interesting to do a word search on the word pleasing and then to link that concept with God and what pleases him, verses people and what pleases them. Are you aware of what brings God pleasure – that is, when he is most pleased? I say the word pleasure and most of you think: bad – no! Me no likey pleasure! God no likey pleasure! This is where you hear the record player scratch across the record…eerrrpt! The reason you think pleasure is wrong is because the sinful nature has corrupted this beautiful trait of the Trinity! God designed us for pleasure – but Satan corrupted that beautiful gift.
ill.: This is so beautifully illustrated in Genesis 2 as our story continues; God creates this couple and places them in the perfect environment for community to take place. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
In this moment of Genesis, we find perfection. This couple is experiencing community in perfection. But something happens … and that is our 3rd lesson…
III. Humans corrupt Community with our sinful behavior.
exp.: let me read that last verse again: 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
What? Naked, and unashamed?!? I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but we’re all wearing clothes here today. And isn’t it wonderful! That’s a big change from what we see at the close of Genesis 2. But something happens in chapter three that mars this perfection, this innocence. Adam and Eve reject and rebel against God’s design. 3.7 reads: 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
app.: here’s the point: You and I were designed to find pleasure in this life through our relationships! We find pleasure in our relationships when we live them out perfectly through community. The problem is this corruption of sin in our lives. We will never be that way – living in community in perfect unity – as long as we have sin in the world. Imperfect people make an imperfect community.
t.s.: So what are further implications are here for us?
- Community takes work.
exp.: relationships are hard. You’ve heard me say that before, but it fits here so well. You and I are marred by sin’s affects and we have to fight through our desire for sin and self. We argue that others don’t behave that way so why should we? But God doesn’t set our brothers and our sisters as examples. He set himself! The truth that relationships are hard work rings true across the board as it comes to community.
ill.: People leave churches because they’re unhappy. It is easier to leave than to sit down and talk through our differences. In Smith County there are over 400 churches you can move to. You can go to a church for 1 year, then go to another for a year. If you do that, you’ll never have to worry about relationships. With 100 Southern Baptist Churches in Smith County, you won’t even have to change denominations! It is just too easy.
Here’s another implication:
- Community brings accountability.
exp.: The Bible teaches us that Community is the source to help us with accountability. Accountability implies responsibility. You are responsible to someone for something. And, for that, you are to give an account. But, here is the problem. As sinful humans, we don’t want to be responsible for each others and we don’t want others to be responsible for us. Because of our sinful nature we don’t want people holding us accountable.
ill.: Bruce Larson, There’s a Lot More to Health Than Not Being Sick:
Behavioral Sciences in recent years have expounded the simple truth that “Behavior that is observed changes.” People who are accountable by their own choice to a group of friends, to a therapy group, to a psychiatrist or a pastoral counselor, to a study group or prayer group, are people who are serious about changing their behavior, and they are finding that change is possible.
Studies done in factories have proven that both quality and quantity of work increase when the employees know they are being observed. If only God knows what I’m doing, since I know He won’t tell, I tend to make all kinds of excuses for myself. But if I must report to another or a group of others, I begin to monitor my behavior. If someone is keeping an eye on me, my behavior improves.
exp.: Scripture teaches us that we need accountability because we have responsibility. Romans 14.12ff
- To God:12 – 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. This is 1st and greatest responsibility.
- To each other: 14.13 – 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I think this passage is often times misquoted to make others behave in a manner that lines up with our beliefs. We say to someone – you shouldn’t do that because a weaker brother might stumble. The reality is our pharisaical rules and regulations and traditions go against that behavior. What this verse isn’t saying is to make your brother in Christ behave the way you want him to behave. But, what this verse is clearly saying is that we have a responsibility to our brothers and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, behave that way.
- To ourselves:14 – 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. You are accountable and responsible to yourself. Your conscience should be clear before God.
t.s.: Community helps us in regard to relationships – through accountability, through the hard work of relationships. You were created for relationships. It is hard work, but hard work can be so rewarding. So,
- The Trinity is a model for us of what community means and looks like.
- Second, you were created for relationship. And those relationships bring responsibility.
- And Third, whereas God is the perfect example for us of what Community looks like through the Trinity, we have corrupted the opportunity for perfect community through our sinfulness.
Conclusion: Pamela Reeve in her book Relationships (as recorded by Chuck Swindoll) writes: Not long ago I walked by a wall poster that brought me back for a second look. I can’t remember the artwork, but I’ve never forgotten the pithy, pointed message: “Involvement with people is always a very delicate thing….It requires real maturity to become involved and not get all messed up.”
Community groups are important because they involve relationships – Relationships on a much deeper level than in any other church related activity: It requires real maturity to become involved and not get all messed up.”
Invitation: remember the fig leaves – a weak attempt to cover themselves. The end of that chapter tells us that God covered them. He made clothes for them out of animal skins. That was the first sacrifice. That penalty is still the same – the wages of sin. Jesus paid that penalty for us.