Sermon Manuscript: Fellow Servants in the Lord
We live in an era where the ability to connect with people has never been easier. Cell phones, email, social media…all of that has made communication incredibly easy. And yet, never before has it been more difficult for people to connect at deeper and more meaningful levels.
Almost twenty years ago, a professor of Public Policy at Harvard, named Robert Putnam wrote a book about entitled, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. And in his work he “warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities.” When we speak of social capital we are saying our social networks have value. The people we know, the depth of those relationships, and the benefits that flow from those relationships determine our social capital. Putnam tells us loneliness, isolation and rugged individualism has exponentially increased in the United States over the last 25 years. Here are some of his findings:
• Attendance at Club Meetings drop 58%
• Family dinners drop 43%
• People are having friends over 35% less
• Church attendance is down 20%
• The amount of people who bowl is up 10%. The amount involved in leagues down 40%. Hence, the title of Putnam’s book is “Bowling Alone.”
Well, if you’re familiar with the contents of the Bible, you should know that Christianity is a faith that is meant to be lived in the context of community. Or to put it another way, we need each other. Now that’s not to say that relationships aren’t difficult at times. Even within the church. I heard a poem once that went something like this:
To dwell with saints above
That will be glory;
But to live with saints below,
That's another story.
But despite the difficulties, genuine relationships can be a powerful tool by which God works in our lives. As I think back on my own life, my growth as a Christian is inextricably tied to other people. People who taught me, people who were patient with me, people who encouraged me, people who loved me enough to correct me… people who invested in me.
Here’s what I want you to see this morning: The gospel advances when we invest ourselves in the lives of others. It would be easy for us to gloss over these last 12 verses—thinking there isn’t much to be said. But every name here represents a person in the life of the Apostle Paul. But all of these people had partnered together with Paul for the spread of the gospel. And if we believe that the gospel is the good news—the greatest news, then wouldn’t we want to see it spread? Or to put it a different way, you and I can’t serve God unless we invest in the lives of others.