Introduction: My uncle was a godly man. Born shortly after the turn
of the century, he spent his entire life as a pastor and
administrator in the Salvation Army Church. One day I asked him what
change he saw in the Christian community over the years. He told me
that television had replaced the church as the center of community.
Before the advent of television, churches (and, I assume, bars) were
the focus of social interaction. Now, he said, people stay at home
and enjoy community through television. If he were alive today, I
suppose he would name the Internet and cell phones as the community
of the next generation. What plan does God have for community? What
is His goal for those who follow Him? Is technology a help or a
hindrance? Will the church make a comeback? Let’s plunge into our
study and find out what the Bible has to say about community!

  1. Holy Nation

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:4-5. Who is the “Living Stone?” (Peter is
      talking about Jesus.)

      1. Is Peter describing a community of some sort? (Yes.)

        1. What are the building blocks of the community?
          (We are! We are “living stones.”)

        2. What is the goal of our community? (We are
          priests. The priests represented God to the

          1. The text says we are offering “spiritual
            sacrifices.” What does it mean that we
            are some sort of priest offering some sort
            of sacrifice? (I think it means we are
            accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf
            for our sins, and we are telling others
            about it.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:6. What is the relationship between the
      Living Stone and “living stones?” (Jesus, the Living
      Stone, is the cornerstone of the building made up of us
      living stones. Jesus aligns us. He orders our lives. If we
      trust His way, we will never be put to shame.)

      1. Read John 14:6. What other role does Jesus play in
        community? (Jesus is not only the “Cornerstone” of
        our community, He is the “Door” to community. Our
        community is centered on Jesus.)

    3. Does technology create any obvious problems to this
      community? (It does not have to. Technology aids
      communication. Thus if us “living stones” are being built
      together to rely on Jesus, better communication should
      help with a better build.)

      1. Could technology be a problem? (Yes. If it caused us
        to build on something other than the Living Stone. It
        gives us a level of privacy in community that limits

      2. Most Internet browsers have a “history” section. Ask
        yourself if you would like your community to be sent
        instant updates on your browser history?

    4. Read 1 Peter 2:7-8. Can the Living Stone be a problem? (It
      is not helpful to those who want to disobey Jesus. It
      causes them to stumble and fall.)

      1. Why? ( Romans 9:30-33 discusses this. Those who pursue
        righteousness through works cannot accept the
        righteousness by faith Jesus offers. We are a
        community built on faith.)

    5. Read 1 Peter 2:9. What is the purpose of our community
      built on Jesus?

      1. Why are we called “chosen people?” Isn’t this a
        description of the Jewish people? (They were to
        represent God to the world. But, they failed to reach
        God’s goal for them. Today, the church represents God
        to the world.)

      2. Who are we praising? (Jesus – the one who called us
        out of darkness into light. The purpose of our
        community is to shed light on God’s offer of mercy to
        the world.)

    6. Read 1 Peter 2:11. What kind of attitude should be present
      in members of Jesus’ community? (We are to abstain from
      sinful desires. We are to consider ourselves “aliens and
      strangers in the world.”)

      1. Why? (Sinful desires war against our souls.)

      2. Think back about your browser history. Think back
        about your last gossip. How can you control your

    7. How important a factor is community to right living? We
      all know of Christians who “fell off the wagon” when it
      comes to right living. It did not protect them. (Christian
      community is certainly no guarantee, but it helps with
      right living.)

      1. I think about the influence of community when I was a
        child. Johnson’s Newsstand was where my dad, a
        prominent member of the community, stopped to pick up
        his newspaper every night. It was also the only
        local place I knew of which sold magazines with
        pictures of naked women. The odds of my father
        buying one of those magazines in front of his
        “community” was about the same as my father taking
        off his own clothes in that shop!

    8. Read 1 Peter 2:12. Community is supposed to not just help
      the members, but also be a witness to the pagans. Will
      the pagans admit having a favorable impression of the
      Christian community? (No. They accuse us of doing wrong.)

  2. Community Support

    1. Read James 1:27. James is a writer who emphasizes the
      works of a Christian. (Sometimes I think that James and
      Paul should have collaborated on a book of the Bible.)
      What does James see as being the first obligation of a
      Christian Community? (Widows and orphans.)

    2. Read 1 Timothy 5:3-4. What community do we have within the
      larger Christian community? (The family – even the
      extended family.)

      1. Read 1 Timothy 5:7-8. Why would a person be worse
        than an unbeliever if he did not help his family? (If
        you do not love and help those who have the greatest
        claim to your affection, how can you love and help
        those you do not know? Consider 1 John 4:20-21.)

    3. Read 1 Timothy 5:9-10. The commentators vary on what is
      meant by “the list of widows.” Some think these are
      church employees. To help you decide, read Acts 6:1 and 1
      Timothy 5:16. What do you think?

      1. After the believers discussed in Acts 6 got properly
        organized, how do you think they knew where to
        distribute the food? (They had a list! I think “the
        list of widows” in 1 Timothy 5:9 are those widows
        being supported by the church. Any doubt in my mind
        is erased when I read 1 Timothy 5:16.)

    4. Look again at 1 Timothy 5:9-10. What does this teach us
      about the importance of community in deciding who to

      1. What does the work of the “worthy” widow teach us
        about community? (It is a mutual assistance group to
        some degree.)

        1. Is this just widow’s work? (This is work for all
          of us. This is part of being community.)

    5. Read 1 Timothy 5:11-14. Should we help everyone who asks
      for help – everyone who wants to be put on the support
      “list?”(Paul teaches that we should not encourage people
      to be idle and thus get into trouble.)

      1. Is this a rule that we should apply to all who ask
        for our aid?

        1. Read Luke 6:30-31. How do you understand this

      2. How should we decide who to help?

    6. Twice now, in the last three weeks, I have been in a
      popular suburban shopping area and had able-bodied men ask
      me to give them money. I could give them money without
      harming my budget. What do you think I should have done?
      (Recall last week that we read ( Matthew 25:34-36) that the
      righteous gave physical help (food, clothes) and not money
      to those in need? This week we see Paul saying help those
      who merit it, and do not encourage idleness. The common
      thread seems to require us to have some knowledge about
      the needs of the person asking for help. It is easier to
      just give money, but the ideal solution is to have better
      information about the individual.)

      1. After having come to this reasonable conclusion, read
        Jesus’ words in Luke 6:35-36. Jesus says to be kind
        to others – even the ungrateful and the wicked! Does
        this mean we should help lazy bums? (Apparently, to
        some degree.)

    7. If key ingredients to community are to help those in need
      and to know who should be helped, what impact does
      television and other technology have on this work?
      (Without meeting with other members of our church
      community outside of formal worship, we will have no idea
      about their needs or how best to help. It seems technology
      is a barrier to that.)

      1. How would you suggest that we “fix” this? (The best
        solution is to have the church community meet
        together in small groups for Bible study, and other
        activity. That helps us to know each other.)

        1. Is there a technological version of this?
          (Facebook? What about a Bible study using

    8. Friend, are you in “community” with other Christians? If
      not, why not join a group of believers today? It is God’s
      will for your life.

  3. Next week: Mission.