What have you defined as your community either in your current life stage or in the past? How might your definition differ from what the Bible calls us to?
Chris uses the example of carrying a backpack alone versus carrying a boulder alone to illustrate sharing and carrying each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and knowing when to take responsibility for your own (Galatians 6:5). The assumption here is that everyone is carrying burdens. When have you seen or experienced this type of sharing of burdens? What “boulder” have you been carrying that you need to confess in community? For whom do you need to step in and help carry their “boulder”?
Being relationally connected is not about spending all of our time with a functional community of friends who are just like us and make us “feel good”, but about a formative community of people who are spurring us to be more like Jesus through challenging, exhorting, sacrificing, encouraging, and motivating. Where might you be investing in a false, or functional, form of community that isn’t the life-changing community of the Bible? When is a time that God has used true, formative community to mature you?
What can you do to step out of functional community and move towards formative community? How has social media, your phone, and other communication kept you from being fully known and relationally connected? How might these things contribute to loneliness?
Chris explained the progression from the “one another” in James 5:16 to confess and pray and then be healed. How have you seen or experienced the healing process of accountability and the confessing of sin bring life change? What is helpful from the quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
"Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one's community back from the path of sin." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In Genesis 1-2, the only thing God mentions as “not good” was man’s solitude; even in the perfection of the garden, God considers Adam “alone.” Since the beginning, we have been wired to be relationally connected.
We were created to live in community that goes beneath the surface—community where we are transparent, seen, fully known, heard, cared for, confronted, and loved.
James 5:16 tells us to confess sins to each other, pray, and then be healed—in that order. We should be confessing to each other in the midst of our sin, not wait until we feel like we have it managed. This is how we are healed!
We have redefined community as a group of people that we love because they are similar to us, and they make us feel good about ourselves. This is not the type of life-changing community we find in the Bible.
It is challenging to live in a group of people who are not like you. However, loving them will mature you into the image of Christ far more than surrounding yourself with people who are easy to be with.
In the midst of biblical community is where we meet God.
God did not create us because he was lonely, needy, or bored but because being relationally connected is so essential to his being (in the Trinity) that he wired us that way as well.