Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Waking the Dead 3 - Fellowships of the Heart
- It Must Be Small
This small core fellowship is the essential ingredient for the Christian life. Jesus modeled it for us for a reason.
- It Must Be Intimate
Of course, small groups have become a part of the programming that most churches offer their people. For the most part, they are short-lived. There are two reasons. First, you can’t just throw a random group of people together for a twelve-week study of some kind and expect them to become intimate allies.
“All the believers were one in heart.” Acts 4:32 It means they all loved the same thing, they all wanted the same thing, and they were bonded together to find it, come hell or high water. And hell or high water will come, friends, and this will be the test of whether or not your band will make it: if you are one in heart. My goodness- churches split over the size of the parking lot or what instruments to use during worship. Most churches are not ‘one in heart.’
Second, most small groups are anything but redemptive powerhouses because, while the wineskin, might be the right size, they don’t have the right wine. You can do some study till you’re blue in the face, and it won’t heal the brokenhearted or set the captives free. We come; we learn; we leave. It is not enough. Those hearts remain buried, broken, untouched, unknown. It is knowing that you are at war, that God has chosen you and evil is hunting you, and so a fellowship like Frodo’s must protect you.
- It Will Be Messy
“The family is… like a little kingdom, and, like most other little kingdoms, is generally in a state of something resembling anarchy.” – G.K. Chesterton
It is a royal mess. It is disruptive. Going to church with hundreds of other people to sit and hear a sermon doesn’t ask much of you. It certainly will never expose you. That’s why most folks prefer it. Because community will. We have settled for safety in numbers – a comfortable, anonymous distance. An army that keeps meeting for briefings, but never breaks into platoons and goes to war.
Living in community is like camping together. For a month. In the desert. Without tents. All your stuff is scattered out there for everyone to see. Some philosopher described it like a pack of porcupines on a winter night. You come together because of the cold, and you are forced apart because of the spines.
However, there are two things you now have that you didn’t have before, and they enable this sort of fellowship to work. First, you know the heart is good. That is the missing key in most fellowships. Your heart is good and the other’s hearts are good. This makes it so much easier to trust and to forgive. Whatever may be happening in the moment, whatever the misunderstanding might be, I know that our hearts toward one another are good, and that we are for one another.
Second, we know that we are at war. The thought that says, “Oh, brother, here goes Frank again. Why can’t he just drop it about his mother? What is it with these people? The’re not really my friends.” That’s the enemy. You must remember that the Enemy is always trying to pull everyone else to do to you what he is doing to you. As I said earlier, he creates a kind of force field, a gravitational pull around you that draws others into the plot without their even knowing it. “If you cant get it right, we don’t want to be with you.” It’s a lie. It’s the Enemy. I don’t feel that way toward him really. But unless I live with this awareness, keep a watchful eye out for it, and resist, I’ll get sucked into the pull, start making agreements with it, and there goes the friendship.
- Fight For It
“Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle” – Philo of Alexandria
A true community is something you’ll have to fight for. You;ll have to fight to get one, and you;ll have to fight to keep it afloat. But you fight for it as you bail out a life raft during a storm at sea. You want this thing to work. You need this thing to work. You can’t ditch it and jump back on the cruise ship. This is the church, this is all you have. Without it, you’ll go down. Or back to captivity. This is the reason small house fellowships thrive in other countries: they need each other. There are no other options.
Suddenly, all those “one another’s” in Scripture make sense. Acts of kindness become deeply meaning full because we know we are war. Knowing full well that we all are facing battles of our own, we give one another the benefit of the doubt.

Wow.... We just started with a growth group this past Fall. Some great couples in it, and to be honest, we kind of hand picked it with people that we already knew, that we had worked with in ministry before, because of some of the reasons Eldredge refers to above. We started with three couples in the Fall, the other two we knew pretty well, and worked with together in YouthMin for literally years. Like about 5 years. We have shared passions, the same kind of calling, see the same kind of perspective. We just added a fourth couple, and they are a great mix. When I think about these three other couples, the word 'sacrifice' comes to mind. I'm pretty sure I could call them in the middle of the night if I needed to. And I think they would feel the same about us.

No comments:

Post a Comment