8 Jan 12
(This article can also be found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called “Blog”)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God’s Word needs to be discussed in community.
I want you to think about why community is important. Why is living as an island not the best thing for the human soul? For some the issue of community conjures up some pretty negative memories. While healthy community is important, it can be difficult to find and sustain. A good question to ponder would be, what is it about community that can make sustaining healthy community challenging?
This question for this TB is, why is community important? Here are three reasons that come out of our text.
Text: Romans 16
Community helps me in areas where I cannot fully help myself.
We get this point from v1,2. Phoebe was living in Cenchrea a city about seven miles south of Corinth. She apparently was on her way to the imperial city, Rome, and was able to do something for Paul that he could not do for himself- go to Rome and deliver this letter that he had dictated to Tertiusv22. Not only would she deliver the letter but possibly she would have been the one to answer any difficult questions the receiving audience would have had regarding Paul’s letter.
Notice how he commends her to the Church in Rome.
He calls her a servant, he encourages them to receive her and give her any help she may need. He then goes on to say that she has been a great help to him. The second use of the word help is actually a different greek expression than the first.
Help– A patron of a religious association was normally a well-to-do person who allowed members of a religious group to meet in his or her home. The patron was generally a prominent and honored member of the group and generally exercised some authority over it. Although most patrons of religious associations were men, some women patrons are known.
Phoebe is to be highly esteemed in their eyes because she is most certainly highly esteemed in Paul’s eyes.
The context of how Paul is referencing Phoebe is not regarding what Paul did for her but what she did for him that he could not do for himself. He was unable to go to Rome, she could and did. I really think one of the reasons she makes Paul’s list is because she is able to help out Paul in an area where he cannot fully help himself. He is restricted from going to Rome at this time.
We all have a “Rome”- a place we cannot go to, a challenge we cannot tackle by ourselves. Call it what you will- limitations, shortcomings, restrictions, hindrances. We all need a “Phoebe.” We all are in need of key people in our lives that help us in areas where we cannot fully help ourselves.
Here is my sample list, what might yours be?
I cannot adequately process the stuff of life and remain healthy on my own.
I cannot deeply understand scripture without community
I cannot pray as I should and need to on my own.
I cannot function as a healthy and affective leader on my own.
I cannot understand reality- the reality of who I am, what I am leading, etc without the helpful insights of others around me.
Two people that I talked to said (my paraphrase) “ I cannot move beyond personally imposed boundaries without community.” Sometimes those imposed boundaries come from past experiences, fear etc.
Finish this sentence in your small group “ I cannot….” And then add- and the person that helps me in this area is…..
Community can be a place that inspires great acts for the cause
Next up on Paul’s list is Priscilla (female) and Aquila. Why do you think they made Paul’s list? Got any clues from the text? (v3)
Notice “fellow workers”. This helps us see a bit of a different picture. In the greek the word means- work or achievement which is more or less equally divided among fellow-workers- co workers.
συνεργός (synergos)- English word synergy- combined action or operation- both are strong, both are able.
With Phoebe, the emphasis was on what she did for Paul that Paul could not do for himself. However in this next example “fellow workers” the term gives the idea that both Paul and this couple are contributing, both are working hard, both are achieving. In fact Paul tells us what they did for him in v4. This is no doubt a jaw dropping awe inspiring act. They RISKED their lives for Paul. But I think there is something more to this. This is not just a loving act towards Paul (which is great in and of itself) but this is an off the charts, through the roof, example of people going to great lengths to further the cause, the mission that they along with Paul were committed to.
You see, I think healthy community can be a place of great inspiration as we see others serve and sacrifice in incredible ways for the cause that is so much bigger than ourselves. They risked their lives for Paul, no doubt because they loved Paul, but also because they were committed to the cause of proclaiming Christ in a world not to far removed from the resurrection.
Healthy communities spur one another on to love and good works (Heb 10:24,25) We don’t compete but motivate each other with our acts of service and sacrifice.
If you are in a group, here are some good questions to discuss.
How are you contributing to this community?- small group etc
How do we inspire each other?
How do we love each other?
How would you define the cause bigger that yourself?
Community engages my life with diversity
Scan through the names Paul lists v1-24 and note the diversity. How are these people different than each other?
Now answer this question- What do you learn from people that are different from you?
When we live in a bubble we miss out on the rich diversity in the body of Christ that can bless our lives in so many ways. With the space remaining, here are some of my examples of what I learn.
Generational- we see the young and older listed in Romans 16
Students- I hear questions I don’t think about, optimism that is inspiring, energy that is contagious, passion that is motivating
Seniors- depth of faith, richness of character, resource of wisdom, model of lifetime service.
Poor Appreciation for the unique set of challenges they face. The complexity of their lives that I would not understand from just looking at the surface. I have learned how much they need relationships.
Gender – I learn from women the more emotive side of seeing an event or situation. Sensitivity, warmth, compassion. Sorry if I sound like I am stereo typing. I also have learned much in terms of leadership from women.
Married – I have learned how to love my wife. I have seen modeled healthy relationships that my wife and I seek to embrace. Also I have seen negative examples that serve as a warning, caution.
Ethnic– Gain a rich appreciation for the cultures of the world. They often demonstrate incredible hospitality. They sometimes help me see how materialistic our NA world is.
Are you connecting in community? Are you developing relationships with a few that you can trust and that you can serve with? Community is important, make it a priority!!!!
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