Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today's Sermon Leftovers

In the Engage class this morning, we had an excellent conversation! For those who don't know, the Engage class is a sermon discussion class that follows the Sunday service. Today we discussed my sermon from 1 Samuel 18-20 entitled, David and Jonathan: A Picture of True Community. Allow me to recap the main points of the sermon, recap a couple of nuggets from the Engage class discussion, and then end with a couple of questions that were still left unresolved at the end of class. You'll then be invited to join the conversation and help us find answers to these unresolved questions.

Sermon Main Points:

True community happens when...
1. People love each other as much as they love themselves.
2. People make deep and lasting commitments to one another.
3. People faithfully defend one another.
4. People boldly protect one another.

And...maintaining true community requires a lifelong commitment.

Engage Class Discussion Highlights:

First, we talked about what things keep us from experiencing true Christian community today. We discussed things like our culture, fear, unwillingness to be vulnerable with each other, a lack of a desire to connect with one another, and not recognizing our need for community.

Then, we explored the idea that - as Christians - we are to be loving to everyone, but true community (like David and Jonathan's) will only be experienced with a few people in our lives. Those "few" should include spouses, children, and the close family/friends that God puts in our lives. We recognized that it is not our responsibility to live this way with everyone in the church, but we were hopeful that if each person sought to experience true community with a few people in the church, then the chances that most - if not all - people in the church would experience true community would be greater.

We then decided on a couple of action items for all of us to consider like being willing to take the risk and seek true community with a few people in our lives, evaluating how willing we truly are to connect with people on this level, and recognizing that we must first look inside our own homes to develop this kind of true community.

Daniel Hachez made a great observation. He said that if we're going to even have a chance at being successful in experiencing true Christian community with others, then we must strive to reduce "busy-anity" in our lives! I think I'll start using that word!

Now it's your turn!

After the class, Corrie Girdner came up to me and said she still had a couple more questions about this topic that she wanted to ask. With her permission, allow me to pose these questions to you...and then it's your turn to add to the conversation.

Do you think friendship covenants like David and Jonathan's should be entered into today?

How can we know who to enter into this deep kind of friendship with?

What about deep male/female friendship between non-married people? Is it biblically permissible for Christians to continue to pursue these type of friendships once they're married?

These are great questions! Corrie, Nathan, Michelle, and I talked about them for a bit after class, but we'd all love to hear from you, so it's your turn to take a whack at these questions. What say you?!


Tony said...

Questions like these (and all on this topic) can only be authentically answered when the highest purpose of community is established - what is the highest purpose of community?

Mike Potter said...

Well, Tony...looks like you stalled the conversation with your question! Looks like people are a bit intimidated by it. Why don't you give us some insight?! By the way...great message on Sunday. I believe in grace, but...

Evonne said...

The highest purpose of community is God's glory and worship resulting in believers being known by our love thereby glorifying God and inspiring grateful worship so that we forget about ourselves and are focused on Jesus. How's that for a circular, Christianese answer? But I do mean it. If we are focused on Christ and His kingdom then we are willing to go beyond the sentimental or soft placating of one another. We will speak the truth in love, lots of love, hate our own sin, encourage one another, release one another from unrealistic expectations, and bear one another's burdens with the goal of each one gaining the strength to bear for others. We will Galatians 6:1 each other having restoration as our goal so that God is glorified and worship is exuberant, and reverent, joyous and grateful. We are to be known by our love.

Anonymous said...

I see the biggest danger of close friendships with the opposite sex after marriage is vulnerability - that the friendship relationship may become a threat to the marriage relationship, even to the point of destroying the marriage.

It is much the same problem that is faced by many counselors and pastors as they work with members of the opposite sex. Deep sharing of confidences often results in deep empathy which can lead to romantic attachments. I imagine we can all think of real-life examples.

Evonne said...

Dear Anonymous,
I know who you are!

Evonne said...

Well..I am going to try this again...I lost the last bit...concerning friendships...All genuine Christian friendships are covenantal. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be in fellowship with one another, loving correcting, restoring, exhorting, comforting and spurring one another on in the Christian life for God's glory and for the sake of Christ. We are friends because we are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Jesus has called us His friends although we are not His equals. He binds us together. It is always all about Jesus. We must Galatians 6:1 one another, taking care that we are spiritual by confronting ourselves and living lives of grateful and joyous repentance. What a privilege it is to repent! Jesus has made us friends through his work on the Cross. He has shown us what friendship means. We are to be known for our love.

Friendships between men and women are characterized by the understanding that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. How would Christ evaluate your "deep male/ female friendship"? We live in a highly sexualized culture and yet it seems that we are often ignorant of the subtleties, nuances, and power of sexuality. It is important that single people do not delude themselves or falsely meet the needs for companionship in one another through friendship beyond what it means to be a brother and sister in Christ who is spurring one another on to God's calling. Women, especially are naturally responsive and can be especially vulnerable to a young man's sad and lonely tale. She can inadvertently weaken her passive young friend from getting on with God's call on his life by commiserating with him. If she truly understood that he is her brother she might be more inclined to tell him (kindly, of course) to get his sorry, passive self up off of the couch, stop playing the video game and go pursue God's call on his life. It is not good for him to be alone--nor is it good for her to sympathize with him and quench the Spirit that calls him to godly manhood. Better yet, one of his brothers, or an older man, should be "encouraging" him to action and to stop dabbling in the hearts of his single sisters in Christ.

Concerning "deep male/female friendships" after marriage, much confusion and heartache can be avoided if friendships prior to marriage are kept in their proper context. One's spouse should be the judge of what is appropriate in a friendship and should never be excluded. Preference and honor should always be given to one's spouse, thereby telling the truth about Christ and His Church, which is the whole point of marriage. We are to be creating appetite and thirst for God's kingdom for His glory. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Our marriages are a mysterious picture of Christ and the Church. Great care must be taken to tell the truth about who He is. Marriage is the ultimate human covenant. This is not to imply that single people's relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ are inferior, but that Scripture tells us that something mysterious and profound is being said about Christ and His church through marriage. "Deep male/female friendships" have the potential to compromise the truth that God is communicating. Be friends with one another without excluding one's spouse from the mutual intimacy that the words "deep friendship" imply. Honor and prefer your spouse. Pursue your friendships with the opposite sex only as a married couple.