Having friends, working side by side toward a common goal is the definition of community. God gives us an invitation into His community helping us grow.
We went to the park today to play. My son wanted to have someone to play with but he can be shy in new situation. He tends to mirror play until someone invites him to join in. As soon as that happens, an invitation, he opens up. Laughing, running, smiling. As a mom that simple joy makes me so happy.
I think that is how our Heavenly Father is with us. He want us to find friends. Those who will invite us in and make us feel part of a community. I imagine when he sees us together, laughing, talking, loving each other, He is so happy.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:12-15, NIV
My husband, Phillip and I have tried several small groups over the years. Some have been good, some boring, some felt exclusionary, and some have tried too hard. All of them I think had good intentions and truly wanted to spread God’s love. But none of them felt just right for us. Some came close but none were the kind of fit where you just felt comfortable and free to be yourself.
In the last year we have joined a small group that feels like family. There are a lot of us and we can be overwhelming when you first meet us. There are more kids in our small group than I have in my classroom. The first night we met everyone, Phillip and I weren’t sure what we had gotten ourselves into and were wondering how to politely get out. But very quickly we saw how much these people loved each other. They would do anything within their power to help each other out. When I need help someone is always willing.
We all come from different parts of the country, have a variety of jobs and interests, and everyone has a different story about how they came to know God. But God is our connection. He is our foundation that all our connected links start with.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Proverbs 27:9, NIV
We have had various members who have been sick, hurt, or have surgery in the last year and our group texts are quickly replied to: What can I do to help? Can I bring you something? We are praying for you. When you see all the outpouring of love and genuine support you are so uplifted and encouraged.
Occasionally someone needs help with a task. Picking up a washer and dryer, yard work, help with child care. Within minutes our team has agreed to help out and you know you can depend on them.
This small group restores my soul, fills my faith and refreshes my love. For that I am eternally grateful that God placed them in my path. Because of them and other believers in my life, I am able to be mighty and sure when an unbeliever crosses my path.
To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
Not that I agree exactly with Thomas Aquinas here, but I think it shows the struggle of speaking with non believers. It can wear you out. Last year our group volunteered with the Raleigh Dream Center. We went out and delivered food, fun and fellowship to an underprivileged neighborhood. It was awesome and exhausting.
I had a little boy tell me that his mom liked when those church people brought food but wished they would keep their praying to themselves. I must admit I am easily discouraged by such things. One of our small group leaders is just the opposite. Though she didn’t know that the little boy had said this, I saw her pray with every person she came in contact with, including that little boys mom. I saw the mom give a big hug to my friend toward the end of our time, even after she had prayed with her. These seeds of God’s love being planted create a new view of faith that comes in rushing waves. I am thankful to Him for the experience.
I encourage you to find people who share God’s love and purpose. Yes we should bring Him to the unchurched and those who don’t have a personal relationship, but that can drain your spirit and make you question. Faith and grace are found in the midst of a group of believers who you share your life.
For where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am also.
Matthew 18:20, NIV
Thank you for family. Not just the family we are born into, but Your family of believers.