Farmville Enterprise July 31, 2019
It is clear from Scripture that God created us to live in community with others and with him. We desire to know and to be known. No matter what our personality, we long for at least a few meaningful personal relationships. Children grow up needing a support network and we never outgrow that need. For Christians who are particularly independent or introverted it might be tempting to try to take on spiritual growth alone without having a one-on-one relationship or small group which encourages their faith. Jesus likens the church to the body, interconnected and interdependent. The power of having a person or people walking alongside us in our pursuit of holiness and wholeness cannot be underestimated.
Joining others in worship is foundational for our relationship with God and with the Body of Christ. Our very presence can help build up fellow worshipers. In addition, there are assorted ways in which we can be part of meaningful Christian community. Sunday School classes, Women’s Circles, Men’s prayer groups and small group Bible Studies all typically are positive sources of connection and growth, especially when people are committed to meeting regularly and being intentionally supportive of fellow group members.
For some it is most desirable to have a single prayer or accountability partner with whom they can relay what God is teaching them, share hopes, dreams and joys and open up about fears and struggles. These one-on-one relationships tend to flourish when the basis is love and concern for the other’s best interest. The two adhere to confidentiality and strive to be guided by the Word of God. With the trust that develops, challenge or correction may become a good part of the relationship. We all need at least one person who can be honest with us in saying the hard or confrontational things that need to be expressed.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) In ancient times this sharpening would have been a process that took a long while and required persistence. In the same way we need persistence in our closest relationships, through the ups and downs over the years.
One of my best friends once shared with me Richard Gillard’s “The Servant Song.” Part of it says, “We are pilgrims on the journey. We are travelers on the road. We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load. I will hold the Christ light for you in the nighttime of your fear. I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear. I will weep when you are weeping. When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you. I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.”
Are you part of a small Christian community which encourages and challenges you? As the Apostle Paul writes, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)