Very well, let us commence. Please open your Bibles to Romans chapter 12, verses 1 through 8. This text holds significant sentimentality for me. It belonged to my late brother. Nonetheless, the first two verses encapsulated his life. He departed in the year 2002. Consequently, each instance I peruse this passage, a trace of emotion envelops me, and it resonates with me in a profoundly unique manner.
Thus, it is perpetually enjoyable for me to share this account. Moreover, I am brimming with enthusiasm for today’s sermon. However, I admit to feeling a slight sense of caution, Alita, when my excitement surges. This hesitation stems from past instances when my exuberance led to less-than-desirable outcomes. Conversely, there have been times when I lacked enthusiasm for a sermon, only for God to orchestrate remarkable occurrences. I perceive this as a means for God to preserve my humility and to underscore that His endeavors are not contingent upon my efforts. While I have the privilege of delivering God’s word, He remains entirely self-sufficient. Yet, the honor of preaching the divine word is bestowed upon me. Today’s message has evoked anticipation as I have delved into it. One source of inspiration I wish to share occurred last week. Following a break in July, my life group—which comprises individuals in their twenties and thirties—resumed its gatherings at my residence on Monday evenings. As Kinsey is present, she can confirm that we resumed our sessions, even opting for an outdoor gathering in my backyard. A substantial assembly of young individuals participated, making it an enjoyable occasion.
Getting together again was enjoyable. I mean, it was a super fun time. But what was enjoyable was getting back into studying the word of God. And you know what’s great for me? I really like diving into the word of God. Here’s what happened with our life group: there were almost 20 people there, but about six of our regular members couldn’t make it. Still, I had a really good time. They asked me if we could listen to the sermon on Sunday and then talk about it more on Monday. I’ve really liked doing that.
Let me tell you, it’s like a wonderful thing. And please pay close attention to what I’m saying, sorry for the cough. I can’t stress this enough: it’s so valuable for you to join a life group and be a part of it. Seriously, you should either join an existing one or think about starting your own. There’s something really special about learning and talking about the word of God with other people. And it’s not just about the studying part – it’s about the sense of community. I rely on them and we share laughs and jokes. I know I can count on them when I need to.
They can reach out to me, and that night was really special. I notice and think about how our society works, and those kinds of nights are like doing something different from what most people do. It’s like going against what’s usually happening to admit and act like we need each other in our lives. That’s different from what we’re used to. We’re made to want and need relationships. We really do need connections. But it’s the opposite of what we’ve always been told. I mean, in America, we really like being on our own. I like being on my own. I’m thankful for being on my own. I’m thankful for our freedom. But in the words of God, we’re supposed to rely on God and rely on each other. We need each other.
So, here’s something I’d like you all to do this morning. I know we’re doing interactive church. Okay? Listen up. Some of you might try to cheat, and I’ll catch you. Instead of saying what I want you to say to the person next to you, you might just say something random like “watermelon, watermelon.” It looks like you’re talking, but you’re not really saying the right words. I know that. But can you all help me out with this a little? I want you to turn to someone, and hopefully, maybe not even someone you’re related to, because this could lead to some couples needing counseling later. Just say the thing I’m about to tell you to say.
Now, I want you to look at someone right away and say with words, “You need me.” Come on, give it a try. Find someone. Okay, I’m waiting. I’d like you to do it. Carl, turn to your daughter at this moment and tell her, “You need me.” Yeah, thanks a lot. I’m happy. Okay. Yeah. All right. I know it’s not easy to say that you need someone, right? But here’s the next thing I want to show you. It’s not interactive this time, but it’s kind of fun. Let’s try it again. You guys are doing fine, people. The 9:30 group took a bit to get it when I asked. So, here’s the second thing. Now, I want you to face that person again and say, “I need you.” No, wait. You just said that in the last one. I want you to say this now. “I need you.” Turn to someone right now. Tell them, “I need you.” Come on, say it genuinely. “I need you.” There we go. That’s what being a community is all about.
This is what church is, and it’s not what our society usually does. We often want to act tough and not rely on others. We like being on our own, right? I’ve had people come to my office and tell me directly, “It’s really hard for me to say I need help.” But here’s the thing, everyone has their problems because of sin. We’re all not so strong in ourselves. We all have difficulties. None of us are perfect, and we need Jesus Christ. We also need other people who believe in Jesus in our lives. That’s what being a community means. It’s important for us to be connected with other believers. That’s what the church is supposed to be about. We don’t need to act like Frank Sinatra and sing alone.
I did things my own way, but folks, we should do things the way God wants. We should have others in our lives. So, the title of today’s talk is “Why We Need Each Other.” We’re going to discuss that – why we need each other. We really do need each other. I need you, Caleb, and you need me. Even more, if you believe in Jesus Christ and He’s in your heart, then I should be close to you, and the same goes the other way around. Honestly, what we really need is Jesus. And if you have Jesus in you, then I need to see it. I was just thinking, as I was talking to you, about sharing life like Marley. Just seeing Jesus in how you live is a wonderful thing for me. I need that. I need you, Marlene. And maybe they haven’t realized it yet, but you need me too. Okay, I know that might sound a bit scary right now. It’s something to think about.
Do we truly require him? Okay, I’ll admit it. We need one another. So, hear me out. To fulfill God’s purpose for us, we must recognize that going solo isn’t enough. Acknowledging that we need each other is the first step toward community. We’re currently in a sermon series about community, as you know. But the true essence of community isn’t centered on you or me. It has to be about Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many have lost sight of that. So, today we’re going to discuss five reasons why having a church family is important, and even more importantly, five reasons why you should be part of a small group of believers and have others around you.
So, let’s take a look at the text and see what the writer wants to tell us. At the start of verse 1, he says, in chapter 12, “So, my brothers and sisters, considering the kindness of God, I’m strongly encouraging you to present yourselves—your bodies—as a living sacrifice, completely pleasing to God. This is the way to truly worship. Now, let’s stop for a moment and think about this. What is he talking about? He’s saying, hold on, because we’ve been saved and received grace. What’s grace? Well, it’s when we get something good that we didn’t deserve. He chose to save us even though we didn’t earn it. He’s given us grace. So, he’s saying, because of this, I’m urging you to offer your bodies like Jesus did. Just like Jesus sacrificed his body for you, in return, offer yourself as a sacrifice. This is your real way of showing your faith, giving up control. There’s no independence in surrender, right? Just giving in and saying, “Okay, Lord, my way of spiritually worshiping you is by surrendering.” He’s saying, do this because none of us earned this, none of us deserved it.”
None of us work for getting salvation. We don’t deserve salvation. He has given salvation. And aren’t we lucky to have it, folks? If this doesn’t excite you this morning, I’m a bit worried about you. It makes me really happy to think about what God has given us.
Now, let’s see what he keeps saying here. I’ll find the right verse and then we can both read it. He tells us not to follow the ways of this time, this world, or this culture. Instead, he wants us to change by renewing our minds. This way, we can figure out what is good, what makes God happy, and what His perfect plan is. So, he’s saying, hold on. Because you’re going to do this – offer your life like a living sacrifice – he’s saying, listen, don’t just follow what everyone else is doing in this world. Let’s not let the world tell us how we should act. Instead, let’s change by learning from the word of God. Let the word of God change us from the inside.
Let’s become what God wants us to be. That’s what he’s really saying here. He also mentions that this will help us understand God’s good, pleasing, and perfect plan. It’s never just about us, not about your idea or my idea, not about what I think. It’s about what the word of God says. As a community, when we all come together, we need to agree on one important thing: we need Jesus. We need to make pleasing God our main goal. That’s what we’re being challenged to do.
If we look at this text, we can start with five important things, but I need to finish reading the text. Sorry, I’m so excited because you see, if you don’t understand the first part of this text, you won’t understand the second part either. If you’re not changed and renewed by God, you can’t truly be part of the body of Christ. He keeps going in verse 3, saying that because of the grace given to him, he tells everyone not to think of themselves as better than they should. He’s saying, hold on, don’t think too highly of yourself. Can I just say something right now?
I’m talking as a pastor here. There are many preachers in this country who should read this too. Some of them think really highly of themselves. And there are lots of church members who should remember this, right? It’s not about me or you. We’re not the important ones. We’re here asking God to move. We need God to move. Look at this verse he gives us, because we’re changed. We understand that. Let’s keep going.
So, he’s saying we shouldn’t think we’re better than we really are. Instead, we should think sensibly. God has given each of us a certain amount of faith. This world could use a verse like that – “Think sensibly.” Have you ever thought this world is just crazy sometimes? Come on, there are moments I watch the news and think, “Have I taken crazy pills?” It’s just not right.
Now, let’s keep moving. He says we’re like many parts in one body, and not all parts do the same thing. It’s like a big illustration Paul liked to use. Just like we have many parts but they all make one body, we believers are like one body in Christ. And we’re like parts that help each other. It’s because of the grace given to us. We have different talents or gifts. If someone has the gift of prophecy, they should use it in line with their faith. If someone’s good at serving, they should do it well.
Use your talents to help others. If you’re good at teaching, teach. If you can encourage others, encourage them. If you can give, be generous. If you can lead, do it responsibly. If you’re good at being kind, do it cheerfully.
Oh, hold on a moment. You’re meant to show kindness. Yes. And you’re meant to be happy about it. Yes, that’s what being a community means. In simpler words, use the gifts God gave you. We need to stop this idea in churches that everyone should look and act the same, like a cookie-cutter. If you don’t look like this or fit into that, then you’re not a Christian – that’s not how it works. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and grace. So, aren’t you glad that we all look different, that we’re not all meant to do the same thing?
Now, let’s see five reasons why I believe we need the church. First, I need others to walk with me. I need you to be alongside me. That’s what we want – to move you from just attending to being a member, to taking part in ministry.
We’re in this together. In simpler terms, I need people to help me grow spiritually. Take a look at Colossians, Chapter 2, Verse 6. Paul’s message to the Colossians is just like when you welcomed Jesus, keep following Him. Throughout the Scriptures, we’re told about walking. Walk in a way that matches your calling. Walk in step with the spirit. Walk together.
Let me tell you, we must walk, and we must walk together, in harmony. But in harmony with what? In harmony with Jesus Christ. We should always strive for unity among believers. Don’t let anything tear us apart, friends. We need to stay united. We need to be a real community.
We should be like God’s family. The Bible calls our spiritual journey our walk. It’s like always moving forward, like being on a journey. The New Testament tells us about this. However, God never meant for you to travel through life alone. He wants us to have each other. I really need you. I need your support as we walk together. I need someone there to give me courage. I need someone there to pray for me. I just need people. I know sometimes some of you prefer taking walks alone. But when you’re following God’s path, remember this: none of us can do everything that needs doing on our own. Kelly, even in your work, you need us to walk alongside you. Boa, in your work abroad, you need us to support you in that mission.
Like, even in preschool, Cheryl, you need us to be there for you in that work. It doesn’t matter who you are. We all need each other in the work God gave us. That’s what he’s saying. And aren’t you happy about it? You don’t have to go alone. Why is it not good to go alone? Well, there’s a problem with that. First, going alone is not safe. The devil is fierce and like a roaring lion, looking for someone to hurt. There have been times when Deedra went shopping and it got a bit late. She called me on the phone and said, “Why did you call me?” She told me, “Well, I’m a bit scared. There are some people in the parking lot.” She wanted me on the phone as she walked. I asked her, “What do you want me to do, honey? Stop whatever you’re doing.” But she felt better knowing that I’d call the police if needed. She didn’t want to be by herself. Friends, as Christians, we don’t want to be alone. We need each other. We’re meant to be like a body, working together.
Could you imagine? But please, don’t actually do this. I had an example in mind with Bruce, but it didn’t sound as good as I hoped. So, I stopped there. Well, let me tell you this: if your finger gets separated from your body, what happens to it over time? We need to be connected and joined together. The body needs all of us. You might think, “Why? There are parts of my body I don’t need.” But consider this: is it your pinky? Alright, let me ask you: how would you clean your ears? It’s my turn now. I didn’t ask for input. That was earlier in the talk. Imagine you’re stranded on a desert island, with no Q-tips. How would you clean your ears? I suggest you try making a cross shape with your fingers. Nope, it doesn’t work so well. Anyone for either side? Quit joking around during the talk, please. The talk is still going on. Alright, we need community for everything, but let’s save comments for later. My point is, honestly, we really do need each other. Now, can we survive without some things? Yes, my son lost one eye at the age of four. He only has good vision in one eye. He’ll tell you, having both eyes is important. It helps with depth perception and seeing different things. It’s really crucial.
Can he still live without both eyes? He’s doing really well even with just one eye. But let me tell you something important. Friends, we’re meant to be whole. We need each other because it’s not safe and it’s not helpful to be on our own. We might give up if we’re all by ourselves. And here’s the third thing, it’s just that we’re smarter when we’re with others because we can learn from each other. In the Bible, it says, “As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another.” Friends, I need you. I want to be honest with you. Sometimes in my life group, I’m like, “Okay, I’m not sure about that.” Someone in my life group asked a question, and another person responded. I loved what happened next. Someone else said, “You know, I was reading in the Bible recently about this.” Friends, we learn from each other. Remember that we are all part of the same team. God can speak to you just as much as He can speak to me. When we come together, we can use that knowledge to encourage and support one another.
So, let me tell you, it’s important to join others who are studying the word of God, and it’s even bigger than that. Can I say this? A life group is way more than just studying the word of God. I’m saying this now because I want to make it clear. Tina, I want you to know that every one of you in my life group, Kenzie, Tina, Brandon, Jackie – I’m just looking around at those who are part of my life too – there’s not a single one of you, Patrick, not one. I feel like I could call on any of you if I was really struggling, and you’d be there for me. I’ve talked to you about my mom before, and you’ve hugged me and prayed with me. But also, the other way around, you all know I’d be there for you if you were going through a tough time. That’s community, right? We need more of that, not less, among us. There are basically two big goals we should have in a church: learning to love God with everything we’ve got and learning to love others too.
Since we’re a spiritual family, listen, your spiritual family is going to be around longer than your physical family. I believe it’s very important to spend time and effort building relationships. Let’s not stop meeting together and instead, let’s support and encourage each other. The Bible says this, and interestingly enough, I got an email last week about this, and the person didn’t even know what I was going to talk about. I’m not calling anyone out, nobody’s calling me. I’m pulling up an email I got. I want to show you. I talked about this a little bit last week, and I’ll talk about it some more. This church member had no idea, but he sent me an email with a quote he found, and it really surprised me. You might wonder, “How did you know to talk about that, Kevin?” I want to tell you, it’s the Holy Spirit of God. As much as I like technology and enjoy cameras and being online – hi to my daughters who are watching right now, and Elania, I’m glad you’re watching too.
My mom will be watching, and Fred will too. I appreciate that a lot. But let me share something that concerns me. It’s because we’re getting so caught up in technology that we’re losing those close relationships with one another. We’re not really looking into each other’s eyes, and we’re not fully present for each other. That’s why I tell anyone, if you can be in a physical church with real people, you should. Steve knows what I mean. There’s no way you can truly sense the power of God unless you’re right here and witness God working in someone’s life. When you see tears, when you see the impact of what God is doing, that’s when you understand. So, I encourage you, if you can come to church and you’re not facing health challenges like cancer or other serious issues, we need you. We need you to be part of our community and to show love.
So, he sent this to me. I want to read the whole thing to this group because the last group couldn’t handle the whole thing. So, you guys are going to hear the entire thing. That’s not true. Okay, listen, he sent this to me. He says, and I don’t know who the author is. It says, “As church attendance numbers decrease across the country and online services become really convenient, it’s important to remember why going to church matters a lot for you and your family. You can’t serve from your couch. You can’t build a community of faith while sitting on your couch. You can’t feel the power of a room filled with believers worshipping together from your couch. Christians, here’s what I love: Christians aren’t just consumers. We are contributors. We don’t just watch, we take part. We give, we make sacrifices, we support, we pray by putting hands on those who are hurting. We live life together. The church needs you, and you need the church.” End of the quote. I just got this and I thought, “Wait a minute. This fits perfectly with what I was talking about in the beginning.”
We’re a community, my friends. That’s why we’re brought together. Point number two, let’s keep moving fast. Community is how God helps us when we feel lonely. Community is there to support us with that. Just having a few people in your life who know you, well, sometimes the Devil tries to hit us when we’re feeling lonely. What does God want? He wants us to grow and He wants us to love one another. Look at Ephesians 4:16. It says, “From Him, the whole body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament, promoting the growth of the body.” We’ll talk about those ligaments soon, like Bo and Cindy. I’ll discuss that in a moment. They help the body grow because the stronger they are, the more the body can grow. They’re both into weightlifting and powerlifting. We’ll discuss that shortly. It says, “It promotes growth for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.” In more modern terms, it’s like every muscle working together.
So, Cindy and Boa, as powerlifters, you’re really focused on your whole body, right? You want everything to fit and work well together. You understand that if your ligaments are getting weaker, it can hinder your growth and strength. That’s why all of us matter. It’s not just me needing someone to walk with me, but also needing others to work with me. God made us to do good things, and being alone isn’t good because when I’m alone, I’ll eventually give up. There’s a verse in Ephesians 4:9 that says two people are better than one because they can achieve more by working together. Friends, we have a big job ahead of us. This is why community is so important. In church, we don’t need Lone Rangers. Thinking “I’ve got this.” Let me tell you something: if you try to go it alone like a Lone Ranger, you’ll end up exhausted, burnt out, and likely to quit.
I need you, and I want you to know that I repeat this a lot as your pastor. Anyway, I hope you really hear it, though sometimes it seems like you might not take me seriously. But I want to tell you, I feel extremely fortunate. Do you hear me? I feel so lucky and blessed to be your pastor. And I need you. Every Sunday, I consider it a source of joy. A lot of joy. You might know that I’m enthusiastic about the word of God, John. I’m also thrilled to be with you. Some of you might be thinking, “Why? I don’t even enjoy my own company.” Well, that’s your feeling, not mine. I appreciate you, I care for you, and it brings me happiness. And folks, it should bring happiness to any of us to come together and say, “This is my community.” You know, we don’t get to choose our family, right? We can choose our friends, but we’re stuck with our family.
I can’t just say, “I like this part of my family, but I don’t like that other part.” Nope, that’s not how it works. I get what God gives me. The Bible tells us in James that every good and perfect gift comes from heaven. So, I’m grateful for what God has given me. You might think, “Oh, I wish we had a different kind of pastor.” Well, guess what? You didn’t get someone else, you got me. That’s just how it is. Okay, let’s move forward. Community, point number three, is God’s answer to tiredness. All of God’s people working together for His purpose. I’m fascinated by how they support each other, like a team, helping one another and being faithful. If someone needs help building a barn, they all come together to build it. If they need a house, they build one together. I’m not saying we need to copy the Amish lifestyle, but can’t we as Christians come together as a strong community for God’s sake? If we want to truly impact the community where we live, we need to be united, or else we’ll all end up tired and worn out.
We’re getting ready for AWANA, and we need everyone involved. Those who pray, those who help out, and those who are here. And speaking of that, where’s Kyle? Oh, there he is! Kyle, with our youth, we all need to pitch in, or we’ll end up exhausted. Whether it’s in worship, greeting people, or all the other things happening in our churches, we have to work together. If we leave it to just a few, we’ll all get tired and worn out. So, as a community, we’re here to support each other. It means I need others to look out for me. It’s not only about walking and working together, but also about watching out for one another.
You know, there are times when I really need folks who will stand up for me when I need support. I need those who will be my defenders when I need defending. People who can protect me when I’m in a tough spot. I also need those who will keep me on the right path. How about you? They say real friends are the ones who let you know if you have something stuck in your teeth. Or even if your breath isn’t the best. I want true friends who care enough to look out for me. And that’s what a community like a church is meant to be. We do have some of that already, my friends. But I believe God wants to remind us of what a strong community truly should be. And, remember, it’s not just about receiving, but are you that person for someone else, offering them help and support?
It’s not just about you; it’s about putting others before yourself. Let’s think about others. Number 4 is how community helps in tough times. You know, in Ecclesiastes 4:10, it’s said that if one falls, their friend can help them up. But it’s sad when someone falls and there’s no one there to lift them up. Sometimes we face defeat because we lack someone to lift us up. There have been moments in my life when I’ll need you all to help me get back on my feet. And you know what? There will be times in your life when you’ll need that too. That’s the beauty of being part of God’s community. If no one is around to help when you stumble, sometimes it’s hard to get back up. By the way, have you ever felt like Satan’s been hitting you hard, making you feel down and defeated? It’s in moments like that we need our community to uplift us.
You know, sometimes in churches, we tend to criticize those who are struggling, even though the Bible teaches us to support and uplift those who are genuinely sorry for their mistakes. We should be there for them, offer encouragement, show love, and help them get back on track. I personally need that in my life. I need people who can come up to me and say, “Kevin, it’s okay that you stumbled. We’re here for you.” Kelly, your ministry is a great example of this. You’ve helped people who were feeling down, and that’s something we all should do – assure them that God is with them. Sometimes, I need friends who can be patient with me and share my sorrows. Have you experienced that too? In life, there are moments when I need companions to walk with me, laugh with me, love me, and provide encouragement. But there are also times when I simply need someone to sit with me and share in my sorrow.
At times, we’ll need someone to wrap their arm around us and say, “It’s okay to cry. God understands.” And in those moments, it’s reassuring to hear, “God’s got this.” We’re like a team where each person has a role. We can’t just say, “I wish my body didn’t have certain parts.” It’s the same with us – every part is needed. It’s like looking at ourselves in a mirror and thinking, “I want a new body.” I’ve heard we’ll get new bodies in heaven, and it’s comforting to imagine that. But let’s be realistic, we can’t just choose a new body like that. It’s just a fun thought to help me cope a bit.
Speaking of new beginnings, Steve, today is your last day with us. Let’s take a moment to appreciate him. I’m thankful for Steve, and I cherish the time we’ve spent together. It’s a blessing to have walked alongside him, just as it is to be walking alongside all of you.
That’s what community is all about. Where do you think God wants you to help out in this community? So we can create a positive change together. The last point I want to share is about how community can help us with fear. It’s often easier when we have others by our side, right? Fear can creep in so easily. We might worry about being accepted or loved. We can feel scared to step out and trust in God. Some might even feel fearful about taking that important step of giving their life to Christ. Or maybe you’re afraid to take the step of getting baptized. And you know what? Some of you might be thinking about joining this church as members. If that’s you and fear is holding you back, I want you to reach out to the person next to you.
It doesn’t matter who you are in this church. If someone grabs your hand and asks if you’ll come forward with them to talk to the pastor because you’re scared, just go with them. It doesn’t matter where you’re sitting. If you’re in the middle of a row and worried, I have people on each side. You can move them or bring them along with you. The important thing is not to stay where you are. Trust Jesus Christ. Amen. Because we’re all a community. We’re all broken and we all need Jesus Christ. I need Him, and I need you. Let’s stand up and sing. If you want to respond to this invitation, come forward right now as we sing.