(SERMON BY ANDREW ALLISON)
We gather together on Sunday mornings but that’s only half the story.
The other half is being in each others’ lives in small groups. We need to be in a group where our names are known and others know what’s going on in our lives. The early church would be surprised to hear that I’m preaching about the importance of small groups because it’s just what they did – that’s the way Christians rolled back then.
TV replacing front porches.
Internet replacing face-to-face conversations.
Amazon.ca replacing malls.
Netflix replacing movie theatres.
Washing machines down in your basement replacing gathering down by the river, scrubbing dirty clothes side by side and talking about life.
Small groups will burst your “Me” bubble.
Jesus and His disciples were Jewish and they preached the Gospel to Jewish people inside the borders of Israel. Their message to the Jews was that Jesus had fulfilled all the rules. No more diet rules. No more circumcision. No more trips to the temple. No more sacrifices. The law is done. Your relationship with God is secure because Jesus has secured it.
Paul wasn’t one of the Jesus’ disciples. He was outside Israel and he was talking to non-Jewish people about Jesus. He wasn’t talking much about Jewish law. He was telling these people that Jesus’ death meant they they didn’t have to stay in the pit of meaningless existence. They didn’t have to chase false Gods, invest in empty economics or pursue selfish strategies. Jesus’ resurrection meant that these non-Jewish people could live radically different lives with hope.
Christians – Jewish and non-Jewish. Same message. Same freedom. Spoke differently into there cultures.
Paul went back to the original twelve who were being led by Peter and just wanted to check in. Everything seemed OK but there was a glitch. Peter had left Jerusalem and gone north to Antioch where he was hanging out with non-Jewish people and doing well but “he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.”(vs.12)
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. (vs.13)
So, Paul confronted Peter about this.
“We who are Jews by birth and ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified (vs.16) Basically, Paul shows up and reminds Peter, “You can’t go back. Either Jesus fulfilled the law or He didn’t. Peter, you’ve forgotten who you are. You’re a Christian – not a religious person. Why would you want to go back to jail when Jesus already set you free?”
Jesus killed all the rules on the cross. They’re done. Now I live for Christ.
Christ lives in me.
Grace lives in me.
3 Reasons to join a small group?
- You need people around you who can check your soul.
- You need people around you as identify reminders – who you are in Christ.
- You need people around you as community – to live together in new life.
God always calls us into community.