Today’s guest post is by Ben Reed. Ben is the small groups pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN. He blogs regularly at Life and Theology, wrestling through subjects such as small groups, parenting, leadership, social networking, and counseling…all from a distinctively biblical point of view. You can follow him on Twitter HERE or on Facebook HERE.
Ever been in a relationship of any kind? Then you know what I’m about to say is true: relationships are messy.
Because of the Fall (Genesis 3), try as we may, building meaningful relationships with others is one of the most difficult things we will try to do. Because it’s not just us that we have to work on.
If our problem is, let’s say, lying, we can work on that. We spend time in prayer. Read books about how lying is a sin. Write little encouraging notes to ourselves on our bathroom mirror and on sticky notes that get lost. Read books that talk about how the Truth has set us free from lying. Bring others into our story, let them know our struggles, and have them call us to the carpet when we lie.
But building relationships isn’t all about us. You can try all you want, but the fact that you’re trying to build a relationship with a fellow sinner complicates the game. Because it’s not just you that has to deal with a sinner…the other person has to as well. Trying to line up two sinful hearts is an unbelievably difficult task. So many of us find ourselves gravitating towards isolationism, where we run from relationships. It’s much easier than pursuing them.
But this doesn’t please Christ. For whom did Christ die?
And who is the Church?
A body of believers.
Which means that you, in and of yourself, are not the church. You need others. And they need you.
Only when we live in community can we rightly image our Creator. You see, He also lives in community. “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26-27, emphasis mine) We were designed to function like God does…in community. So when we try to function outside of community, we are fighting against what it means to be human…and against the order of creation that God established.
The fight for authentic, Biblical community is a difficult one. One fraught with frustration, disappointment, heartaches, failures, let-downs, backstabs, gossips, lies, mistreatments and misunderstandings. But this is one fight we should never give up on. And by God’s grace, we will build the body up in love as we each do our part. (Ephesians 4:16)
For our church, Grace Community Church, we have found small groups to be a great place where genuine, God-honoring relationships are formed. And though bringing a group of sinners together is often difficult, the fruit that we’ve seen as people have worked through difficult relationships have far outweighed the difficulties. I hear stories every week of life-change that God is producing as he brings people into close contact with others. It’s these relationships that God is using to refine people, and draw them to Himself.
Have you found the same to be true? If not, what can you change about your church’s community life so that it begins to honor God?
Are you willing to fight the good fight to pursue biblical community?