What if you had a group of friends who loved you and spurred you on to love and good deeds? A group of friends who God used to change every part of your world? How different would your life and walk with Jesus be? Good, faithful friends are hard to find.
God used a group of friends to transform my life as a new Christian. I grew up far from the Lord and didn’t even hear the Gospel until I was 22. Somehow the Truth of God’s Word alluded me for the first two decades of my life. When I finally grasped the truth of the Gospel, the grace of God rocked my sinful world. The Gospel changed almost every part of my life, except for one nasty sin habit that I didn’t want to give up right away.
After almost two decades of hiding an addiction to pornography, I finally confessed my struggle to a group of single men in my community group. In my confession, I fully expected condemnation, judgment and a swift kick out of the church. Instead, I found grace, love, and truth from a group of co-strugglers.
Fast forward a few years to my first Christian dating relationship. Once again, community played a huge role in helping navigate the ups and downs of this relationship, eventually encouraging me to break things off with her because of some unhealthy relationship dynamics (lack of purity, idolatry) to pursue greater intimacy with Jesus.
Also in Atlanta, my soon-to-be-wife’s life transformed because of the small group of women in her community group. Kristen was dating a non-believer and consistently chose less than God’s best out of people-pleasing and insecurities.
Add these dynamics and community victories together, and you find a couple who made a commitment to never live life apart from biblical community.
Whether you are single, seriously dating, engaged, or now married, here are 5 reasons why we ALL need community around us:
1. Community can keep us from being a fool!
Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
This is both a promise and a warning. The promise says we will make good decisions if we hang out with wise people, yet the warning says we will suffer harm if we hang out with a bunch of fools. We need wise people around us to help us grow in our relationship with Christ and with one another. I’ve heard it said that we are essentially a combination of the five people closest to us. Who are you hanging out with?
2. Community helps us make decisions.
There might not be a season of life where a couple makes more life decisions than in the premarried and newly married seasons of life. Whether you just got engaged and are in the throes of wedding planning or you just purchased your first home, community should play a major role in our decision-making process.
3. Community gives us a group of people to celebrate the wins of life with!
Who do you call when you get a promotion or when you get engaged? Who celebrates with you the victories of life? When something goes right in my life, I can’t wait to share it with my spouse and with my community. Wins in life are no fun celebrating on your own!
4. Community can help you grow in your love/affection for Jesus Christ.
Gratitude and thankfulness characterize my view of community when it comes to spiritual disciplines and my love for Jesus. While no community group can force you to grow in your affection for Christ, a small group of friends can help provide the accountability and encouragement you need to pray with your spouse, memorize scripture or read God’s Word.
5. Community can help you address your sin/struggles.
The greatest catalysts for growth are God’s Word and His Spirit, but community can play a major role in providing accountability, encouragement and care in the midst of your sin struggles. It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Take advantage of the gift of God’s people to help you identify and address your sin struggles/addictions. This is the reason why workout groups like Cross Fit do so well. Working out in community helps provide the group accountability and encouragement people often need.
6. BONUS for the premarried:
If you are seriously dating or engaged, run, make that flee, from someone who does not want community in his/her life. Someone who does not want guidance will fall (Proverbs 11:14). You do not want to yoke yourself with someone who thinks they can live life without community.
The form of community is not as significant as the function of community. Whether your church does small groups, home groups, life groups, Sunday school or any other variation, the name is not nearly as important as the function of the group.
In summary, where does this leave you? Do you and your spouse have a small group of couples to help you grow in your relationship with Christ and one another? If you are not yet married but are in a relationship, do you and your significant other welcome the input and friendship from others into your lives? And for those of you in community, are you being fully transparent, or are you deceiving or hiding sin from others?
By the way, the woman I broke up with from the encouragement of my community, I eventually married her and she has been my wife for the past 13 years. Once again, at the urging of community, we dated, this time radically transformed by God’s Word, His people and His Spirit. We have stayed true to our promise and have walked through life with a bunch of other fun-loving and wise couples. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
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