This past weekend, we talked about the importance of getting into a small group. Hopefully, you signed up for one. If you didn't, let me encourage you to rethink that decision. God was the one who said that it is not good for us to be alone, and yet, many people live life alone.
In Men: A Book for Women, James Wagenvoord wrote this tongue-in-cheek creed for "real men," based on the way males are brought up in this culture. As you read this, think about how each of these attitudes works against forming intimate relationships.
And most men are. Most men don't have a single friend. They have their workout partner, where they talk about lifting and nutrition. They have their work buddies where they talk about work and sports, and current events. They might even have a few couple buddies that their wife dragged them into playing games with on a Friday night, but most men don't have a friend who knows them deeply, outside of their wife.
Men keep to themselves. We say everything is fine when it isn't, we never show fear, even though we are often scared to death, and we act as we have it all under control when, in reality, we can't calm ourselves down enough to get a good night's sleep. In many ways, we are alone.
Women are much more relational than men, but that doesn't mean they are any less lonely. I mean, a woman can talk and talk and talk about the weather, or shoes, or clothes, or their kids, they can go to lunches with other women and discuss current events and who is seeing who and who is doing what with who, but that doesn't mean that they have let their guard down enough to really let another person know who they are.
Honestly, most people don't really know us, and we kind of like it that way. We pretend.
But we can't share these things.
Hide your imperfections, maintain your image, and whatever you do, don't admit to anyone that you struggle, that you are weak. Don't admit to anyone that there are habits that are hurting you and that there are addictions that control you. Put on a happy face and act like everything is great.
Just hours before Jesus faces death by crucifixion, He finds Himself in the garden of Gethsemane. In John 17:11, Jesus, in the most famous prayer recorded in the New Testament, prays for His disciples.
"Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name—the name You gave Me—so that they may be one as we are one." John 17:21
Jesus prays that His followers would be so close to one another that they would lean on each other for strength. He prays that they would never do life alone. When you read the book of Acts, you will find that the first group of people who made up the church did exactly that. They became so close to each other and to God that other people wanted what they had with God and with others.
In the first church, they met together in the temple courts and worshipped God as we do here on the weekends. They also gathered together in small groups in each other's homes and opened up the word of God and studied it together and prayed together, and shared their hearts with each other. It was in their small group that they found a depth of friendship they never knew existed.
And my hope for you is that you would get involved in a small group and you would develop a depth of friendship that you never knew existed before.
What can you expect from a small group? A small group is a place to:
1. TO KNOW AND BE KNOWN
Wouldn't it be something if you could find a group of people who could share your struggles and who felt comfortable sharing their struggles with you? Wouldn't it be great to have a group of friends who won't judge you and make you feel worse about what you have done than you already do? Wouldn't it be great to have a group of friends who support you and pray for you and help you?
Again, in the first church, that is exactly what they had. Acts 2:44 says, "All the believers were together and had everything in common".
They were sharing, talking, revealing; they were not holding anything back. We need someone to be there for us to help us through.
Small groups are also a place to
2. TO ENCOURAGE AND BE ENCOURAGED
Every human being needs encouragement. Every person wants the best drawn out of them. Motivate me, believe in me, and encourage me when I am tempted to quit. Help me achieve my greatest potential. Tell me again what God has called me to be.
We need a group of people who will encourage us to be the mom or dad or husband or wife or person we know we need to be and who God wants us to be. We need a group of people to lift us up when we feel down and remind us that God is still in charge.
We need a group of people who will walk through the difficulties that we all face in life.
No one should face a tragedy alone. No one should face a cancer diagnosis alone. No one should do life alone.
Life has a way of sucker-punching us and knocking us to the ground. What we need are people who will help us and encourage us to get back up again.
What else can you expect from a small group? Small groups are a place
3. TO READ AND APPLY THE WORD OF GOD.
Every time you have ever gotten into trouble, every time I have gotten into trouble, is because we did the opposite of what God would have us do. We need a group of people who will not only show us what the word of God has to say about doing life but a group of people who have the guts to ask us if we are actually doing it.
We need a group of people who will encourage us not merely to listen to God's word, but actually do what God's word tells us to do. James 1:22 puts it this way. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says."
Finally, a small group is a place
4. TO LOVE AND BE LOVED
When He was with His small group on His last night, Jesus gives one command over and over.
He says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12)
One of the striking things to me is that the disciples still have not figured out how to love one another even after three years together. I guess that is really the truth about small groups. To actually experience what we have talked about takes time and is hard work, but in the end, it's worth it.
One of the striking things about Jesus is that He didn't work really hard to make sure He put together a small group of people who would naturally get along.
He brought 12 young men together from completely different backgrounds.
If you get into a small group, everything I have talked about is possible for you and them, but it will not be easy. There will be difficult people.
What made the New Testament church explode was the fact that they loved everyone despite their differences. They worked it out. And as a result, everyone wanted to be a part of a group of people who loved each other so much.
How about you? Are you ready to let your guard down and give this a try? I hope that you will because having friends like this will be a game-changer in your life. None of us were meant to figure all of this out on our own. We need each other. You can go to our app or our website and find out more about small groups. You can even join a small group right there while you are online. We have small groups that meet all over the world, so connecting you wherever you are is easier than you think. We believe life change happens best in a small group, so sign up for a group today.
©2022 Sagebrush Church