Some of the three hardest words to say as an adult are ‘I don’t know.’ We never want to appear like we are in over our heads or that we are not as smart as we appear, and for a whole slew of other reasons, we just don’t like to say these three words. Well, I’m going to buck this trend and say them now. I don’t know. I don’t know what it will take for Rotterdam and Schenectady to become places where all people are excited to live, where crime is insignificant, where every child is getting a good education, and where people are experiencing a healthy life and community. I don’t know what it will take for Cobblestone Church to be a completely healthy and vibrant church serving the needs of our members and our community. I don’t know exactly what needs to happen in your life for you to be someone who has peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control to a higher degree than you currently do. I don’t know. I do know that for any of that to happen we need to be in better relationships with one another. For Rotterdam/Schenectady to be a better place, for Cobblestone to be a better church, and for you to be a better you, we all need to be in better community together.
For you to grow as a person - to be that better you, to have more of the fruit of the Spirit - you need to be in a more intentional community. This is true for two reasons. First, we are primarily changed by people we are in relationship with. Social science has shown us that most of our beliefs and actions as individuals are not based on our rational thinking, but based on our relationships. Second, we have been created for community. One facet of being made in the image of God is that we, like the triune God, are built for relationships (or connectivity as it is sometimes called today). Even kids’ songs get this as they sing, “The more we get together… the happier we’ll be.”
For Cobblestone Church to be a more healthy and vibrant church we need to continue to have better relationships with one another. Again, this is true for two reasons. First, Jesus prays to the Father for his followers in John’s Gospel and says, “May they [the disciples] be one in us so that the world may believe that you sent me.” The number one way for the disciples to show the world that Jesus was sent into this world by God is their oneness, their unity. Christian teacher Francis Schaeffer spoke similar words to the Christian Church at a global conference, “There is a tradition that the world said about the Christians in the Early Church, ‘Behold, how they love each other.’” And he also said, “[People] should see in the church a bold alternative to the way modern [humanity] treat people as animals and machines today. There should be something so different [seen in the church] that they will listen, something so different it will commend the Gospel to them.” Second, you can’t be a Christian in isolation. In the New Testament we are called to love one another, honor one another, forgive one another, bear one another’s burdens, and so on. A church isn’t a church if it isn’t providing opportunities for people to live in a community in order to carry out these commands and these commands cannot be carried out only in a Sunday morning worship service.
For Rotterdam/Schenectady to be a better place we need church communities who both care for the greater area in tangible ways and provide environments for personal growth for all. Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” The Church is to be a place where people are transformed, and then these transformed people change the community and the world.
This is why we offer Community Groups at Cobblestone. These groups intersect at the place where we care for one another and care for the surrounding world. (For details about these groups click here). The prophet Jeremiah spoke long ago, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” We are to seek the peace, welfare, and good of the city, and in its peace we will find our peace. I don’t know exactly how we can seek the welfare of this area, but I know it will at least involve us being in better community and relationship with one another.