As the church, we have tried to supplement the need for community with "small groups" that meet once a week. Sometimes we'll really see a group become a family. They end up spending more than just their once a week meeting together. They become a faith family, praying together, eating together, all as they begin to live out the Acts 2 church. But the majority of groups are a once a week meeting and that's it. This is so sad to me. The church is meant to be a living, breathing, organism that consists of all the parts living together, constantly in communication. We are called to share each other's burdens, to walk along side of each other, and yet this is an area we fail the most.
It really struck a chord for me today while I was watching the show "Amish: Out of Order", a series about people who have left the Amish community. If you don't know this, I have a secret love of the Amish community, but that's a blog for another day ;). During the show, Mose, one of the main guys the series focus on, was meeting with John a fellow ex-amish. John had invited Mose to meet with him and some of his friends, to help Mose process through some of the issues of his past.
While the group of men were sitting around the table, Mose was really struggling through this process, when John reached across the table and took his hand. He looked in Mose's eyes and said "we are here, and we will fight this battle for you, if you will let us"... I began to cry, moved by the love and sincerity of this man. Then the question came to my mind "When did the church forget this concept?" Why don't we look into our brother's and sisters eyes and say "I'm here, I will fight this battle with you, side by side, and if I have to, I will fight it for you." Instead we say "I'll pray for you", and then totally forget to even do that.
How off track have we gotten? One of my dear friends, Crystal told me once "I need to know how I can pray for you, so that I can be guarding your back as you are going into battle". What a beautiful picture. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are charging on into battle, knowing the victory is won, but yet we run hand in hand, holding up shields for each other as fiery arrows are being slung into our ranks. But instead we often try to run in alone. "Just me and Jesus, we got this" but that's not how God created us. He created us to be a part of a community, or better yet a part of an army. An army that fights for each other, not just once a week, but daily, hourly, and moment to moment. Paul said it this way
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:1-2
He's saying"Go in and fight along side this person with whatever it is they are dealing with. In this way, you will be obeying the second greatest commandment 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. Get into the dirty and grimy areas of life, don't be afraid of the scary and dark corners. Just get in there and fight!"
I began to see this develop in the discipleship group I had the privilege to work with this summer. These people began to learn how to live in community, they were learning how to pray for one another, also how to answer each others questions. What a beautiful picture of God's intentions for us.
My prayer is that we will all learn how to truly live in community, and not only that, but that we will learn how to fight for each other, because dangit we're all fighting a hard battle. And if I don't have my sister watching my back, and if I'm not watching hers, one of us is going to get hit. And we don't do well alone, because that's not how God created us to be...