The Art of Community コミュニティーの技

This is the second in a sermon series based on Rick Warren’s podcasts “How To Get Through What You’re Going Through” – lessons to prepare us for hard times before they come so we can not only handle them better ourselves but help others who are going through tough times.

Review
The very thing that makes you weak – the very thing that has hurt you, that has shamed you, saddened you, broken you – your greatest weakness could become your greatest ministry to others. あなたの最大の弱さが最大の人助けとなることがあるのです。
A reason that we go through hard times is so that we can
i. Learn to Trust 信頼できるようになる
ii. (In time) Learn to Minister (時がきたら)人を助けることができるようになる
iii. Learn to Honor Jesus イエスを敬うことができるようになる
__________

Some of you would know that fairly recently Rick and Kay Warren lost their son to suicide. A common question amidst such tragedy is: “Where was God when my son died?”
質問:“私の息子が死んだ時、神はどこにいたのか?”
This is a hard place for people to go soul searching. We want to know why God didn’t stop it. Why did God just sat idly by and let it happen. Why He didn’t do something to prevent it. If God is all powerful and all loving, how could He allow such tragedy to happen?
Directly or indirectly, the only way God could have stopped it is by taking away the free will of people.

“Where was God when my son died?”
The answer is: “The same place He was when His Son died.” ​Grieving.
答え:“神の御子が死んだときと同じところです” 悲しんでいました。
God weeps.

Do you know why we have emotions? It’s because God has emotions and we are made in His image. God has feelings, too.
When we’re in pain, God is in pain with us. We have a God who is fully able to empathise with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15)

Yet as we discovered last time, this pain can become our greatest ministry.
痛みは私たちの最大の人を助ける働きとなることがあります。
2 Corinthians 1:6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
Sometimes we go through suffering and pain for the benefit of others.
Think about that. There is more to our pain than what we are feeling. There is a bigger picture. There can be real purpose. It can be for the benefit of others.
When we suffer for the benefit of others, it’s called redemptive suffering.
人のために苦しむなら、それは購いの苦しみと言えます。
Any mother who’s had a baby has gone through redemptive suffering.
Any father who has endured his work for the sake of his family has gone through redemptive suffering.
I believe this is rapidly becoming a foreign concept in western society where individuality and personal comfort are amongst the highest ideals. This week there was an article in the paper in which 64% of respondents said that Japan was a hard place to raise children and this helped explain the declining birth rate.
Really? Japan is a hard place to raise children? Compared to where? And compared to when? Japan today must be one of the easiest and safest places to raise children in the history of the entire world. I don’t think the living conditions of Japan is the problem. I think it has more to do with a profound loss of redemptive suffering.
The younger generation, generally speaking, are simply not willing to give or experience sacrificial love in the way previous generations have – to give up possessions, time, energy for the benefit of others – and for the reward that follows.

Jesus is our model of redemptive suffering. He didn’t suffer and die for Himself. He did it for us. So we can be saved. イエスは購いの苦しみのモデルです。

Some of our pain we bring on ourselves.
Some of our pain is brought on by others.
Some of our pain is redemptive suffering.

God can use all of these to draw us closer to Him and closer to other believers.
And here’s the focus for today – how godly community can help us get through what we’re going through.

We are wired for community and relationships. This doesn’t mean we’re all extraverts. But it does mean that we’re all relational beings. We were not made to go through life alone. We were made for fellowship with God and fellowship with others. That’s why everyone needs a church family to belong to. 私たちはコミュニティーと人との関わりのために密接につながっているのです。
私たちはみんな関わりを持つ存在なのです。

What was the first thing in the Bible that God said was “not good”?
– for man to be alone.
God hates loneliness. So we were made for community and friendship.
God is a God of love. Love requires relationships.

Here’s a problem that is particularly bad in the modern world:
Many people are too busy to have true relationships. 忙しすぎて本当の人間関係が持てない人がたくさんいます。
It’s so easy in today’s world to be so busy that we only ever have superficial relationships. In a negative way of looking at this, it means we never got hurt because we never get close enough for anyone to hurt us but it also means that we never get to enjoy the benefits and joys of true friendship.
We were made for true, deep and godly relationships and it’s in those relationships that we find much of the beauty and meaning and healing and fullness of life. 私たちは本当の深い神の御心にかなった人間関係のために造られました。その人間関係の中に多くの人生の美しさ、意味、癒し、満たしがあるのです。

If we deliberately or otherwise only have superficial relationships then when we go through really hard times we have a problem because it’s then that we realise we have no true support.
Pain humbles us.
It teaches us that we need others. That we’re better together. Pain draws us together. Pain leads us to pray for one another. 痛みは互いのために祈るように導いてくれます。
2 Corinthians 1:11a you help us by your prayers

There are four levels of small group relationships.
i. The fellowship of sharing together – light and breezy.  ともに分かち合う交わり
This is an important part of small groups but it’s shallow.
ii. The fellowship of studying together – this is a little deeper and more intimate ともに学ぶ交わり
When we study and learn together, we start on things that change our lives together
iii. The fellowship of serving together – deeper again ともに仕える交わり
When we serve and work together there is a real unifying in love and purpose. Pick a
project and do it together. Even in our small groups.
iv. The fellowship of suffering together – this is the deepest level. ともに苦しむ交わり
This is when we really open ourselves to each other. This is when we really know others and are known by them. This is when we can let go of the pain we have in a group that is safe, understanding and able to help.

(The one level deeper than this is the Fellowship of the Ring. I’m not talking about the movie! I’m talking about marriage. And as we have a growing number of singles in our church I would like to encourage them to form a semi-regular singles group for the purpose of fellowship, friendship and possibly marriage:))

Share a joy and it’s doubled.喜びを分かち合えば、2倍になります。
Share a pain and it’s halved.痛みを分かち合えば、半分になります。 

Don’t fear community. Don’t fear opening your life to others. Don’t fear sharing your weaknesses. Your fears reveal where you don’t trust God.
Surrender the fear to God and ask the Holy Spirit to replace that fear with a promise.

Here’s one promise: No matter what happens in our lives, God can and will use it for good, IF we trust Him, submit to Him and give Him all the pieces of our lives. 私たちの人生に何が起ころうとも、神はそれを良いことのために用いてくださいます。神に信頼し、神に従い、私たちのすべてを神にゆだねるならば。

Whom shall I fear?
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

Discover this in one of the small groups.