In this talk, Mikado Hinson, the Director of Player Development at Texas A&M, joined us to kick off the series: The Beauty of Belonging. He cautions us against the thorns of isolation and encourages us to live our lives in the way God intended— in connection with Him and His people.
You were not meant to live life alone. God designed us to be in community together. Abundant life in Christ is found with other believers in the Church.
Is it necessary to be with a community of believers?
Yes, you need it. We need it.
Read John 21:15-19 and Acts 2:37-47. The two passages don't seem to really fit together, but we will see how God restored Peter into a position to be used powerfully in the early church.
How did Peter get to this point in his life at the end of the book of John?
- After a miraculous catch of fish, Peter is called by Jesus to follow Him.
- Peter confesses that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah.
- Peter rebuked Jesus when He told him about His death.
- Peter promised never to fall away from Jesus, yet he denied Him.
But God...He specializes in turning messes into miracles.
Peter is at his lowest low and went back to fishing. He's spiraling his way into isolation. The enemy loves to make you feel like you are isolated. Isolation is the playground, and he never plays fair. John 10:10 says the enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy. The thorns of isolation come through in the form of loneliness, depression, addiction, and paranoia; it's a slow drift to self-destruction.
However, community thwarts isolation. The fruit of it is belonging, purpose, direction, hope, fellowship, accountability, fun, peace, joy, and many more. John 10:10 finishes by saying that Jesus came to give abundant life. Abundant life happens in Christ among healthy, Biblical, life-giving communities.
Don't confuse isolation with solitude. Solitude is a spiritual discipline. A quieting of your soul, recharging your spirit. and communing with the Father. You don't live in solitude, but it's a place you visit often. If Jesus needed to spend time alone with the Father, how much more do we need to? See Mark 1:35.
John 21:15-19. Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples to cast on the other side of the boat for fish, and they get a miraculous catch. This was a reminder. He has done this before. John recognizes His voice, and Peter jumps in the water. Peter gets to Jesus, and He already has fish on a charcoal fire, just like the one that Peter denied him, and they have breakfast.
Jesus pulls Peter aside, one on one. He asks him three times if he loves him. It's more clear in the Greek.
The first time, Jesus asks Peter, "Do you agape me? (meaning to love Him with the love of God.) Peter answers, "I phileo you." (meaning he loves Him like a brother would.) Jesus gives him responsibilities and starts bringing Peter back in.
The second time, Jesus asks, "Do you agape me?" Peter answers, "I phileo you." Jesus tells him to take care of His sheep and brings him closer.
The third time, Jesus asks, "Do you even like me?" using phileo. Peter answers that he phileo's Him. Jesus then restores Peter to ministry.
Acts 2:37-47. Here we see Peter fully restored. He has scars, but he is bold and precise. He's free of guilt and shame, he's been grafted back into the body.
Peter's words were used by God to call people to Himself. They repented and were baptized. The Church grew massively. He was used powerfully because he was back in fellowship.
4 Things the Early Church Did
- They devoted themselves to the Apostle's teaching. They came together every day and studied the Bible.
- They devoted themselves to fellowship. "Koinonia" is the Greek term describing the idea of how we are all part of the main thing. To be disconnected is to be disobedient.
- They devoted themselves to communal worship. It's a lifestyle of recognizing who God is, what He has done, and what He will do.
- They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread and prayer. They had seamless unity. Everyone was a witness to the Good News and was compelled to share it.
This is why community matters. God operates within it to accomplish His purposes.
"God will send you the who, what, where, when, why, and how to you when you need it to encourage you in your race."