by Pastor Steven Lee
A few weeks ago I preached on the necessity of community for the Christian life from Hebrews 3:12-19. We looked at three means that God uses to ensure that we persevere to the very end: a caution, community and ultimately, Christ. The passage in Hebrews 3 calls us to pull one another back from the many cliffs of spiritual destruction. Cliffs such as thanklessness, grumbling at God, questioning his goodness or doubting his steadfast love and mercy shown to us at the cross of Christ. Yet, doing our part in caring for one another will inevitably lead to messiness.
Walking with one another through trials gets messy. If a friend is plunging headlong into a dark place, you might need to go after them. None of us has quick fixes to heal the deep wounds we all accumulate throughout life. Depression. Anxiety. Eating disorders. Broken relationships. Miscarriage. Loneliness. Unemployment. Deteriorating health. Wayward children. Death of a parent. Disability.
Our shared trials and struggles in life require that we all cultivate the type of community that is willing to go deep with one another and be willing to wade into the messiness of one another’s life. Last week Matt and Jodee Roberts shared how their small group came alongside a young family that found themselves in deep waters. This family’s trials needed community to come around them, and so they did as a beautiful expression of the love of the body of Christ. You and I need this type of community.
Sometimes it’s easier to share our brokenness and needs when they are physical. It’s easier to say, “Please come help me do my laundry” to a friend because of knee surgery, than it is to say “Please come sit with me for eight hours because I’m depressed and don’t want to be alone.” It’s easier in some ways to ask for prayer for a big deadline than it is to ask for prayer for a marriage that is hanging by its last thread.
In all of this messiness, God means it for good. God has designed the body of Christ so that each and every member is needed. In fact, the broken and needy ones are sometimes the ones we need most. And frankly, who among us isn’t broken and needy. The Apostle Paul says “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body…If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?” (1 Cor. 12:15, 17b). We need every single part of the body. We need the feet, and even those of you who might feel temporarily like ingrown toenails. We need ears, mouths and noses—no part of the body is indispensable. That means we need the broken and hurting among us just as much as we need the spiritually mature. We need those who suffer from mental disability, physical infirmity or broken hearts as much as we need those who are doing well and flying high. Ultimately, we are all broken and in need of God’s transformative grace to be at work in our lives.
Some Sunday mornings I sit up front next to a young man who has Down Syndrome. He is filled with the joy of the Lord and sings with more gusto than most members of the choir. He has a bigger smile on his face than Erik Dewar, and he never fails to greet me and the other pastors. He serves me by reminding me of the joy and exuberance that should accompany the worship of God with his people. This young man delights to sing God’s praises. Though he has mental challenges, he’s less challenged than many of us when it comes to worshipping God. We need every member.
So in small groups, as we carry out the “one another” commands (e.g. bearing one another’s burdens, forgiving one another, serving, showing hospitality without grumbling, confessing sins, etc.), it will get messy, but will you allow God to use it for good in your life and in the lives of others? “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor. 12:21-22). So whether you are a hand, a foot or feel like a bunion on the big toe of College Church, we need you to lean in and be a part of this community. It will not be easy, for any of us, but we need regular reminders that we are part of Christ’s body for God’s glory. And when we walk with one another through life’s joys and trials, we’ll better see the transforming power of the gospel in each of us and in the lives of those around us. God does his best work in and through us when we seek to serve one another—especially when we find ourselves without answers, quick fixes or clichés, and can only point others to Christ.
Join us at Connection Point next Sunday, September 25 following the 11 a.m. service in the Commons. We’ll share the vision for small groups and seek to form new small groups that afternoon. Lunch and childcare are provided. RSVP or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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