topical sermon on Christian Community
harder to see in newer English translations of the New Testament (NT),
but it is there. What
I’m talking about is the Greek word printed at the top of your
worship order. That Greek
word is oJmoqumado/n, (which is transliterated into English as
Greek word is not found very often in the NT, only eleven times; but
it is found quite often in one book of the NT––the Book of Acts.
In fact, all but one NT occurrence of this word is in that
book. The only occurrence
outside of Acts is in the passage that served as our Scripture
reading this morning.
reading was from Romans (Rm) 5:15-16. Romans
was written by the apostle Paul, and, in 5:15-16, Paul expresses his
desire for a time when his readers are so united that they can “join
together with one voice” to praise God. Behind
that English phrase, “join together,” is the Greek word oJmoqumado/n.
Older translations often translated that word as “with one
accord.” What I want
you to know is that this word refers to togetherness and “is used to
stress the inner unanimity of the community” of faith (Hans Wolfgang
Heidland, “oJmoqumado/n,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich,
trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967],
word is found so often in the Book of Acts because a significant
attribute of the early church was its togetherness/unity/unanimity.
Please listen as I read four verses from the early chapters of
the Book of Acts. I will
be reading from the New American
Standard Version, because its rendering causes this word to stand
out. In the first two
verses that I will read, the word oJmoqumado/n is rendered as “with
one mind.” In the next
two verses it is rendered as “with one accord.”
1:14 These all with one mind
were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women,
and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
2:46 And day by day continuing with
one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house,
they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of
heart, . . .
4:24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with
one accord and said, “O
Lord, it is Thou who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea,
and all that is in them, . . .
5:12 And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were
taking place among the people; and they were all with
one accord in Solomon’s portico.
week we looked at the early church as it is portrayed in the Book of
Acts and we highlighted the radical selflessness of the members of
that church. This week we
continue our focus upon that same portrait but we want to highlight
the unanimity and togetherness of that group.
And the Greek word oJmoqumado/n serves as a good door into that
aspect of the portrait.
word is a Greek adverb. And, if you remember your English lessons, adverbs are
modifiers. They modify
verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.
The adverb oJmoqumado/n, in the Book of Acts, is used to tell
the reader the state of the people when they performed a particular
action. It tells us, in
fact, that the people were united together in that action.
In other words, we are being told that they performed that
action with a high degree of unanimity.
They were together in this.
is what the early church community was.
They were together.
and brothers, there is no doubt in my mind that God wants us to be
together. God wants us to
be united. God wants us
to be a community of believers knit together in faith, in love, in
purpose, and in action. And
only the Holy Spirit working within us and among us can make that
happen. But Satan battles that kind of unity. Satan knows what God can do with and through a church that is
truly united in the oJmoqumado/n way.
We cooperate with the Holy Spirit and encourage the creation of
oJmoqumado/n among us when we embrace the NT’s vision of Christian
community and actively oppose Satan’s efforts to stifle it.
embrace that vision. One
of the areas of church life in which we are actively seeking to
embrace that vision is in our Bible classes.
That is why we want everyone to attend Embracing the Vision on
April the 7th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM this coming
Saturday. The purpose of
this event will be to allow us to dream God’s
dream of dynamically active communities of faith that mature their
members, welcome and love new members, and reach out to the unchurched.
Saturday morning in the mid-eighties, a group of Christians from the
George Street church of Christ in Dunedin, New Zealand boarded a bus.
Dunedin is on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island,
and we were heading inland to an outdoor ice-skating site.
It proved to be a wonderful day of fun, recreation, and
special treat of that trip was the presence of a couple of visitors.
The sister-in-law of one of our members was with us.
That sister-in-law was a member of a church of Christ on the
North Island, and with her was her infant son.
He was a sweet little boy, and we all enjoyed him very much.
By the end of the day, that mother and her son were a part of
our Church family.
the Sunday evening that followed, the mother and her son were not at
church on time. They were
staying right next door to the church building, because that is where
the member lived to whom they were related.
But the mother and her son were not on time because the baby
boy was still asleep when worship time arrived.
The mother said that he will wake up in a little while, and I
will come on to church as soon as he does.
not preaching on that Sunday evening.
One of our preaching students was.
All of a sudden there was a commotion in the back of the
building. I looked to see
the mother holding her limp and pale baby boy.
I made my way to the mother.
We had an emergency room nurse in our church family; she went
right to work. But, at a
time when she knew no one else was watching her, she caught my eye and
shook her head indicating no hope.
ambulance arrived. The
baby, the mother, and the mother’s sister-in-law all took off for
the hospital. I got a
ride and followed. The
baby was pronounced dead on arrival.
soon as I arrived, I was ushered into a room with the two distraught
women. There was nothing
to say. I just hugged
them and we all cried and cried and cried. Finally,
I was able to lead a prayer.
church family reached out to that grieving mother with oJmoqumado/n. While arrangements were made for her and the body of her baby
to be transported home, we loved her, we grieved with her, we
supported her. We were
used by God to show her God’s love as she walked through the valley
of the shadow of death.
her and her family several months later.
I was told over and over again how much our love had meant to
her. I learned that she
was pregnant again. I
also learned that she was not going to have special equipment put on
this next baby to make sure that it did not happen again.
She was not going to go forward in fear but in faith. Some might disagree with her decision, but however we view
that decision it showed to me that she had made a remarkable recovery
for an extreme trauma. The
new baby was born, and did fine.
through us gave oJmoqumado/n to that young, grieving mother.
And it blessed her life richly.
Feeling that oJmoqumado/n flowing through us gave us great joy
in an incredibly dark time.
allow God’s oJmoqumado/n to flow though us.
Let’s allow God’s Spirit to create communities in which
people are deeply loved and nourished––communities that reach out
to new members and unchurched seekers.
want to take the Lord’s Supper now, and we want to do that in a
special way. When the
bread comes to you, please break off a piece and hold it in your hand
until everyone has received it. Then
David Anderson will lead us in a prayer of blessing for the bread. After his prayer, we will all eat of the bread together.
We will do the same thing with the cup.
Please take the cup and hold it until everyone has been served
and the prayer of blessing has been prayed.
After that prayer of blessing, we will all drink together of
the fruit of the vine.
is not some gimmick. This
is a powerful way of declaring that we are a community, we are all
one, we are joined together by the work of Christ.
John is going to lead us in a song, and then the bread and the
cup will be distributed among us. John, come lead us.
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