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Finding Our Way to One Another



As we navigate life in a technology-centric world, it can often be difficult to find formative friendships and live in intentional community with other believers. In this talk, Ben Stuart shares the biblical definition of community and gives us practical steps to find it in our lives today.

Key Takeaway

We crave and desire to belong and have people around us that offer safety and stability. God has designed it so that the love we need is found in Him and in the Church.

Modern studies show that there are currently 6 generations alive on the planet right now. There have been breakneck speed changes between generations that have never been experienced. The experiences between growing up in 1950, 1980, 2000, and now all look starkly different. Beginning with the Boomers, there was a cultural shift moving from the collective to the individual. Collectivism means an emphasis on social rules and group harmony. Individualism means a focus and centering on the self. Each generation has become more and more individualistic. The shift has usually come down to major events in history, but in our case today, it has to do with technology. Technology has made it possible to be individualistic. As technology advanced, it left more leisure time, which led to individual time. Boomers were the first to experience the washer and dryer, TV, and birth control, which all directly changed society.

Both collectivism and individualism have their pros and cons. With collectivism, you have fewer choices and options and are more confined to social roles. The trade-off is a sense of identity, safety, and more connection. In individualism, you have lots of choices and options, but the downside is loneliness and depression.

The reason generations are being sliced up even finer is because of constant technological advances. Think of the rotary phone. It took decades for that to catch on, but the smartphone came out, and over 50% of the population had it within five years. TV used to gather the family, but now everyone has their own individual screens.

Millennials rank their childhoods high. They describe it as happy and thriving, but as adults, there was an increase in depression and suicide. That shift took place when social media came out.

Time with friends has been reduced by 65% since 2010. The number of teens and young adults with clinical depression doubled between 2011-2021. It's not just that people are more comfortable talking about it. When you look at hospitalizations, they have skyrocketed. Suicide attempts in 10-14-year-olds tripled overall and nearly quadrupled for young girls. Twice as many teens were taking their lives in 2019, prior to covid. We are downstream from cultural trends. It's not our fault, but it is our problem.

Thomas Hall said, "We are loved into loving." He was quoting 1 John 4:19. We love because God first loved us. We can't give what we have not received. We need to receive God's love in order to give it. His love is inexhaustible, and we need Him as a source to be the source for us.

John was summarizing Jesus' last speech to his disciples. Jesus knew He was loved by The Father. Jesus loved The Father. Since we are all loved by Jesus, we are loved by the Father, and we are to love each other. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us to help us. Jesus was pointing out that in Christianity, we have a triune God. One "what" and three "who's," the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is one common set of attributes and three distinct personalities. They all love, enjoy, and celebrate each other. Our God is love. Our God within Himself is a party. His love doesn't remain contained, it extends towards what He creates.

Ephesians 1:3-4. God the Father is worth praising because He is choosing you to be holy (without sin), blameless (without shame), and to be loved by His Presence. He sent the Son to us so we could have the redemption of sins. We are marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. We see the Triune God extending Himself to draw us Himself.

Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9. Paul says the same thing. We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive through Jesus. By His grace, we are saved. The Spirit forms former enemies into a family.

Ephesians 3:18-19. Paul just celebrates all God has done and asks that people would be able to comprehend it.

Visual: Three individuals stand in a circle. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are enjoying, loving, and delighting in each other. God within Himself is a party of celebration of love. The Father loved the world so much that He sent Jesus, and then Jesus left so He could send the Spirit. The Father sent the Son to rescue and redeem us. The Son sent the Spirit to convict and convert us, showing us our need for the Son. The Spirit brings us and wraps us into the love of the Son, who's wrapped up in the love of the Father that was already in progress. But we don't stay there by ourselves, we are called to love each other. So, the Spirit goes out and brings more in, and where you once did not get along with each other, you get along. When we have all been inexhaustibly loved by God, and He links us together in that love; He supplies our ability to love one another.

In Ephesians 1-2, the only command is to remember. Remember what the triune God did on your behalf. In Ephesians 4, Paul turns and gives over 40 commands of what we are supposed to do. Our work is always an effect, not a cause, because God moved first.

Ephesians 4:1. Walk in a manner worthy of the call. "Walk" is "paripateo," which means walking around, living in reality, absorbing this way of thinking and feeling, and guiding the way you move. As you do this, live your life worthy of this manner to which you have been called. Live in a way that matches the message. The word "worthy" is the idea of balancing the scale. Live so that when people see and hear you and then learn about Christian theology, they say, "Yeah, that makes sense."

How do you live in a way that's worthy of the triune God moving all throughout history to redeem you?

Ephesians 4:2. With humility, gentleness, and bearing with one another in love. Bearing with one another means tolerating each other and putting up with each other.

Ephesians 4:3. Be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We didn't build this peace; God did. God is building a house that is secure and will run into all of eternity. We don't have to build it. We maintain it. So, prioritize it, be eager. Our spirituality is formed in community.

Humility means not self-seeking or boasting. Pride destroys unity. Gentleness is the conscious exercise of self-control. Patience is the delayed outbreak of wrath. It will take divine power to love each other, but it's what we have. Be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond, or weaving together, of peace.

Ephesians 4:4-5. Paul then goes on to use the word "one" seven times. Seven being the number of completion. He fought to make us one and brought in the Trinity again.

In the gospel, there is a value to both the collective and the individual. We are all together as one, but get to bring our uniqueness.

Ephesians 4:7. God goes to each one and gives individual gifts that are to be used for the whole. He states we have been given the structure of us.

Ephesians 4:11. He gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. But these gifts were given for the building up of the Body of Christ.

What's the end result?

Ephesians 4:13-14. That there would be unity among formerly disparate parties as a family and would grow together to look more like Jesus. The result is that we won't be thrown and tossed like children. When we are knit together, there is safety and stability. Children alone in a boat during a storm are in trouble. They lack the knowledge or resources to make it to safety. But children grow safe and strong in a loving community. When the winds of change blow and try to deceive, telling us to go against what God has said, the Church has an anchor, firm and secure.

Ephesians 4:15. Speak the truth in love. Friends alone can't do it. Podcasts can't do it. Are your friends speaking scripture over you? Are they challenging you in your addictions? That's part of what the church does. You need the Church, and the Church needs you. Get involved. Make her a priority. You'll grow and belong, and God will get glory.


"Life with smartphones means we are forever somewhere else."

Sherry Turkle

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Scripture References

  • Ephesians 4:1-15
  • 1 John 4:19
  • Ephesians 1:3-4
  • Ephesians 2:4-5
  • Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Ephesians 3:18-19
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.