“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Mornings are getting harder for me friends. One day I just woke up, got out of bed, and sat back down again. My feet really hurt. What was that all about? And I seem to be getting more tired earlier in the evening, I can’t stay up late any more and make it through the next day. I have aches and pains that were not there a few years ago. And one day, I woke up, went to do my devotional and realized that I couldn’t read the words on the page of my Bible. Good Lord I am falling apart at the seams…
As I become more mature (notice I did not say OLDER,) I am beginning to admit my need for help in getting through this life. Orthopedic shoes, reading glasses, Ben Gay, and children to carry in the groceries are a few of the ways I have embraced my need for help. Oh, I still rage against the age – I beat back my gray hair with a bottle, I run with the 8-year-olds on the basketball court, I listen to the music of my youth as I drive down the road with the windows down – wind blowing in my hair. I even take things like glucosamine and vitamin drinks to make myself feel better. But still, I am aware of my declining ability to do it all myself.
The same is true in my spiritual life. At one time in my life, I believed that my spiritual life was private, personal, and needed no one else. My connection with God was great and I didn’t need to share it with anyone else.
As I have matured in my faith, I have seen how wrong I was. This Christian life is hard. And left to my own devices, I can become lazy. I can begin to twist the gospel to suit my own views and interpretations. Being accountable only to myself, I can justify any attitude and almost any action.
The most profound element of my spiritual growth has been my participation in Christian Community, specifically inclusion in my small groups. Living life with people like myself – seeking God, going to work, taking care of family – has transformed me in ways that I cannot even describe. It is within these communities that I have experienced the presence of Jesus, unconditional love, and a raising of my spiritual bar that I could have never have experienced on my own.
My life is so much richer and fuller because of the friends in my small group. Within this group of people, I have found people that pray with me and for me. I have found people that are concerned about my welfare. I have found people that love me enough to speak the truth, even if I don’t want to hear. They have the grace to accept me just as I am, and they feel a responsibility to help me to become more. They make me a better person. What a gift!
I am thankful that God, in His wisdom, created in us this need for community. It makes life deep and meaningful. I pray that each of you will admit your need for community, specifically folks to help you along on your spiritual journey. And I pray that you will seek out those people that God has chosen for you to do life with. They are His loving gift to you.
May you be blessed by encouraging, strengthening and loving people in your midst.