Sunday February 22, 2015 / How do you pursue community when life gets busy?
Hugh: When life gets busy, when life gets intense, when life gets messy, what do we do? I pray we all run to God. But what does that look like in the context of the local church? Practically speaking, is our first response to challenging circumstances to hunker down in isolation, or do we press in to community? There are many in our church with small children, praise God. And many who have walked before us in raising their small children. They are a bit revolutionary! What amazing gifts. So if now is the season where you are knee deep in kid stuff… Do you ever find yourselves isolated because of the demands of raising kids? Add to that the demands of your job and role as a husband or a wife. Are there other things in your life that are subtly (or blatantly) choking out your ability to be connected with others in the Body of Christ in a life-giving way?
If you can relate to these challenges, I want to encourage you. God has not given you kids to separate you unto yourselves. He has not put you in the job you work or any other circumstance you may face so that you will be prevented from having fellowship with other believers. These things are tools in His loving hands, designed and used to reveal our need for the Savior, and by the work of His Spirit, to drive us deeper into His love and purposes for us.
God has called us to live out life together, to be a source of mutual encouragement and to remind one another of the primary call of Jesus on our lives.
Paul wrote to the Colossians: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Col 3:16.
Also in Hebrews we read 10:23-25: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”)
Mattie: How do we do this? One thing God has impressed on our hearts is a firm determination to fight the tide of the flesh and the gravitational pull of the demands of ‘life’. The truth is that it’s likely not going to get any easier for awhile. God didn’t postpone our mission, or press the pause button on the call to serve and love when He blessed us with children… Our marriage didn’t cease to become our primary gift and testimony either! So we need to figure out how to live out the gospel in fellowship with others right now. Not when things ease up a bit. If we won’t fight for these things now, when would we decide to start? The other thing is a clear realization of OUR need. We need those relationships. There is such strength and safety and wisdom that the Lord has given to us through those in this church who have spoken into our lives. It happens in countless ways as we live and serve in relationship. How many times have our hearts been stirred as we have spoken into another marriage, or has conviction and clarity come to our hearts as parents as we walk with others who are striving to shepherd their children in the Lord. How many times have the sweet union of fellowship and shared meals simply left us refreshed and grateful and more able to walk on in faith? The gifts that our Father gives through this body are many, and multifaceted. The relationships that we have cultivated have been a mutual blessing, and at times, simply life changing. There are those here whom we have called, in tears, to ask for counsel with parenting challenges, or for perspective in making decisions and walking through challenging seasons. You know who you are! What eternal gifts:) We know what Paul meant when he spoke of rejoicing and thanking God upon every remembrance of dear ones that God had made his family in the Body of Christ. THIS is the family Jesus spoke of…
Do you have a context for building that kind of relationship? There are a variety of ways and settings for pursuing that, but they are not accidental. They require a decision to pursue something that God’s word says we need, even commands us to engage in, whether or not that is always easy or comfortable.
Hugh: One thing we’ve done this year in our community group is change the format so it works better for families with kids. We grew out of our previous format when second and third babies began coming and we knew that didn’t mean cancel it all… so by God’s grace, some creative scheduling has worked:) It gets a little messy at times – with kids running around in the background.
We meet two Sundays (1st and 3rd) per month after 1st service with everyone (adults and kids). This is an opportunity for us all to be together with our kids to have a time of intentional fellowship, share a meal, let the kids play a little and have a time focused discussion. It’s a little more free form than what we’ve traditionally done for community group meetings, but we are trusting the Lord will use it and give us perseverance to press in, even in the midst of having the little ones in our midst.
Two Thursdays (2nd and 4th) each month the guys and ladies meet separately. On the second Thursday, ladies meet. On the fourth Thursday, guys meet. This allows one spouse to stay home with the kids while releasing the other for fellowship.
The point here is not to elevate one format above another but to illustrate there are ways we can pursue fellowship right now no matter what is going on. So let’s push past our immediate circumstances and keep eternity in view. Let that motivate us to pursue Christ each day in our homes and alongside those God has called us to be in fellowship with.