A Disciple’s Path: Presence

Psalm 100      John 15:1-17  September 22, 2013

In Northern California you can find redwood forests.  These massive trees grow to nearly 350 feet tall.  Yet, their root system only goes to a depth of 6-12 feet!  Oh, and these trees reach an age of about 2000 years old.  How can they stand so long with such a relatively shallow root system?  It turns out that each redwood tree has its roots intertwined with the roots of several other redwood trees.  As the winds buffet and the rains smash against the redwoods, they remain standing strong.[1]

 In the nearly 2000 years of the church, it has been able to stand the severe winds of society and the punishing onslaught of hate.   The church has been able to do this because of the many local churches of various denominations.  Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ has kept the church going.

 Local churches remain vital as their individual Christians keep faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But how do individual Christians keep faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

 There are two tasks that assist individual Christians in seeing that there is no such thing as solitary religion.  The first is the importance of corporate worship.  We are here to worship God.  The second task is that individual Christians are active in small groups.  We encourage, correct, and love each other in small groups.

 

  1. Worship is central (Psalm 100)
    1. We come together to sing to God (100:1) (Body)
      1. Joyful – be involved in your singing (Heart)
      2. Noise – though John Wesley’s instructions for singing remind us to work at being in harmony and in tune! (United Methodist Hymnal)
  2. We are glad to do this task (100:2) (Soul)
  3. We serve God with other people (100:3)
  4. We come to give thanks & praise to God (100:4) (Mind)
  5. God is good – to each generation
    1. The 1st generation of Christians spent time the Temple – where they worshipped God (Acts 2:46)
  6. There is no such thing as solitary religion.  When we worship God together, then we are able to amplify our voices to God.  When we have Christians who don’t participate in worship, then our voices are not as joyful, or noisy!  This time is about God and our collective effort to praise him.  It is our time together that is one way in which we love God with all of our hearts, our souls, our strength, and our minds.  If we can learn anything about the church after Pentecost, it is that part of our lives as Christ’s followers is to be spent worshipping God.  There is no such thing as solitary religion.  When we are not worshipping God, then we spend time breaking bread together.  In other words, we need time outside of worship so that we can encourage each other to keep faith in Jesus.

 

  1. Small Groups helps us to live our faith (John 15:1-17)
    1. The Father is the vine grower & Jesus is the vine (15:1)
    2. We are the branches (15:5)
    3. We bear fruit, as we abide in Jesus (15:5)
    4. Keep Jesus’ commandments – love one another (15:8, 12, 17)
    5. Remember – A disciple is a follower of Jesus whose life is centering on loving God and loving others
    6. We do this by bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
    7. We lay our lives down for our friends (John 15:13)
    8. There is no such thing as solitary religion.  Yet, we know that we cannot force people to be active in their faith.  Several years ago some conference-level official had the bright idea that all of the clergy should be in small groups.  The idea was that every clergy person in a specific area had to do this small group thing.  The plan failed.  The clergy would not be forced to be in a small group with other pastors.  However, I have noticed that the clergy will get together in small groups on their own.  When this happens, the clergy are able to gain confidence in each other, trust each other, and to grow in their faith.  I think the same can be true for the laity of the church.  Thankfully nobody has suggested that here!  It sure would be great for each person in our church to be involved in a small group.  We have to be able to gain confidence in each other, trust each other, and to grow in our faith when we do this small group thing.  It sure does help to be attached to the vine if we are going to produce fruit.

 

There is no such thing as solitary religion.  We worship God, together.  This is one concrete way for us to express our love for God with all of our hearts, souls, strength, and minds.  It is important that we worship God together.  Why? Because when we worship God together, we are letting the world know to whom we belong.  Then, when we are gathered in small groups, we remind each other about how good God is.

 There is no such thing as solitary religion. We are in small groups, together.  The vine is able to produce much through the branches.  Since we are branches, we find that encouragement to love one another as we gather in Jesus’ name. 

 There is no such thing as solitary religion.  As followers of Jesus, we realize this fact.  And we love God with all we have in worship and love one another in small groups.


[1] Jorge Acevedo, Vital, (Abingdon Press, Nashville; 2012), p. 85

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