“For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” – Matthew 18:20
Friends, we are not meant to walk this life alone.
I did not realize the true necessity of solid Christian community until college.
While attending my university, it became apparent to me how much I needed Christian fellowship. I saw a campus filled with searching individuals who were filling their need for a relationship with Jesus with less worthy things. Alcohol, impure relationships, social status, and gaining success were the gods of many, and I longed to find a place where I could be fed truth, and be encouraged and surrounded by those who thought similarly. I knew the Lord, and I knew he desired for me to walk with Him through these trying years of college. The Lord proceeded to provide many wonderful friendships in the weeks that followed my prayers for community, and together with one of my true sisters in the Lord, we formed a weekly Bible study group.
I will be forever thankful that Jesus led us to start that group. Together with other students in the theatre arts department, we were able to share victories, pray together for struggles, and just be real with one another. We met weekly and read and discussed scripture, got to know each others’ stories and lives, and formed bonds that strengthened our earthly friendships, as well as our relationships with our Lord. What a true blessing it was.
I once had a friend that when encouraged to attend a Christian community group replied, “Well, I do that on my own. I find that I can learn about what Jesus has to say in quiet time by myself.”
Don’t get me wrong - having quiet time with Jesus is very important to our growth with Him. Is is where we can communicate with Him through prayer, read what he wants us to hear, and quietly digest the importance of what He has to say. We should seek this time out daily!
Yet meeting in Christian community is equally as vital.
But, why exactly is this so important, you ask?
The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us throughout his writing about the importance of gathering in community. The writer was penning a letter to Jewish Christians who needed to be reminded about the best ways to live as a Christ follower.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13
The Lord knows how quickly we fall off the bandwagon. He knows that due to our sinful nature, we will indeed fall into sin from time to time. The trick, however, is not to remain in sin, but to acknowledge it, repent, and ask for forgiveness for what we have done. Speaking to someone in a community group, or even just listening to the stories of others, can help us to hone in on our own sinful behaviors. What’s the best way to battle the Devil’s ways? Team up!
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Jesus knows that we can’t do this thing called “life” well if we do it alone. We need others to remind us of the ways in which we should walk. We need others to keep us accountable for our actions, and remind us of goals we set. We need others to help keep us on the right track! And as the Bible says, we need to all the more encouraging and prayerful and the Lord’s return draws closer. Let us be ready on that day!
My husband and I have been attending a small group through our church for the past year and a half or so. It is wonderful. We’re just a big group of sinful people who gather together to laugh, share, pray, and encourage each other in this thing called life. Even on days when I’m dog-tired, I still leave our group feeling refreshed and showered with the love of Christ.
I encourage you to find a group of Christians to meet with, should you not be a part of one currently. If your church does not have a small group ministry - or one that fits your needs – seek out a friend’s church or another church in your area that hosts Bible study groups. You’ll find that there are many to choose from - women’s groups, men’s groups, co-ed gatherings, groups for singles, groups for couples… the list goes on and on. Just find your niche. And be bold. Meeting new people can be scary for some, but we must remember that “where two or more are gathered”, there He will be also-and deep down, we’re all a lot more alike than we are different.
Dear Lord, We know we were meant for community. Thank you for providing us with others with which we can grow closer to you! Help those of us seeking community to find others to help encourage and strengthen us in the Christian walk of life. Remind us to pray for our friends and peers daily, and be with us as we navigate this sinful world while we are still on the Earth. We pray for your return, Lord Jesus!
[Authored by Julie Gernand]