Writer: Max Dequine
Big Idea: The truth we hear on Sundays at church is great. But doesn’t it feel like real life happens Monday – Saturday? How do we bridge the gap between the “Sunday truth” and the “real life” of the rest of the week? On top of that, we’re all busy. Too busy. In this Roman passage, Paul reminds us that Christianity is a team sport. Despite Paul’s spiritual resume he wanted to be encouraged by his relationships with others. Paul reminds us that we have been created to mutually encourage each other. “That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” That sort of give and take is of the very essence of the Christian community — not one lording it over the others, but rather all helpers in each other’s journey of faith. Each of us has something to contribute to others, and each one of us has something to learn from all the others.
Encouraging each other will never be convenient or efficient. But we’re all too busy for another Bible study, right? Is it really necessary? “I have never known anyone … who was isolated, lonely, unconnected with no deep relationships – yet had a meaningful, joy-filled life.” – Ortberg We can’t afford to not be in community! Why? Community groups bridge the gap between truth and real life. It is where we find on-going encouragement that all of us need and can offer others. It’s a critical step in our spiritual growth.
Key passages: Romans 1:7-12, 1 Peter 2:9-10
There is a reason why Paul is consistently thanking God for seemingly everyone he writes a letter to. There is also a reason why we have a Triune God and not a God that is isolated within Himself. As humans created in the image of God, we require community. Romans 1:7-12 & 1 Peter 2:9-10 scratch the surface of the idea that we are far more as a collective body of believers as opposed to individuals taking on the world by ourselves. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” There are countless ways in which being a member of a healthy community can benefit you and more specifically, a group of believers.
Romans 1:7-12 is entitled by scholars, Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome. In this passage, it is made clear that Paul has a genuine desire to be with the Christians in Rome whom he served alongside in the past. In this text, he mentions that he wishes to both impart his own spiritual gifts and be mutually encouraged by these believers in Rome. 1 Peter 2:9-10 offers a similar message to churches in Asia minor. In this specific passage, Peter reminds the believers that they collectively are a people of God who have been given mercy and a purpose. Both passages show there is something unique about a group of believers gathering together and all pursuing the same goal. What we lack individually can be cultivated in a community with Christians and simultaneously we are able to grow ourselves.
In my own life, I can attest to the power and joy that can be found in being part of a Christ-centered community. Both away at school and at home, I have a tight-knit group of believers that I sit down and meet with consistently. We foster relationship, discuss and help one another through trials, confront each other on areas that may need change, and enjoy each other’s company. Without these groups, I lose myself. If I do not have like-minded people to talk through my life with, I lose valuable perspective and opinions other than my own. I am fully confident in stating that I could not be in the positive position I am in today without the friends I meet with. Community is essential for the Christian walk. What could make us think that we do not need the love and support of others?
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2. When/how did you become aware of God’s love? Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God?
- Share a story about a time where someone else helped you through a hard time.
- What is the best community that you personally have been a part of? What made it so special?
Read Romans 1:7-12, 1 Peter 2:9-10
- Why did Paul want to visit the Romans?
- Summarize Peter 2:10. What does Peter mean when he states, “Once you were not a people?”
- What are some Biblical examples of healthy communities?
- List some of the key characteristics of a healthy Christian community.
- What are some of the difficulties of community? Particularly in a Christian setting?
- Share one way God is inviting you to take a risk in order to step into deeper community?
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that our church would trust God, take a risk and say yes to enter deeper into community.