…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
I have been thinking a lot about my abilty to be something less than genuine (a hypocrite). And I think I’m discovering the absolute antidote. People-real people that know the real me. I know, your going to say it’s not safe. You are right! It is not totally safe. Some people don’t know how to handle the real you. They don’t even know how to handle the real them. So what’s the option, never let anyone know the real you? We know that can’t be it.
I want to be alive. I also know that God’s life design for us is that we give and receive life in our relationships. If we don’t receive this life, we will turn to sin. We will be decieved into thinking that this world’s pleasures will truly satisfy. We will busy our lives with everything but what we truly need to grow and become like Christ.
We need other followers of Christ to encourage us. We need them to pray with us, or for us, to just listen or share their struggles as well. We need each other in order to keep it real. If we isolate ourselves from meaningful relationships with other believers we will not see the truth about ourselves. We inevitably become “plastic people” and begin to die spiritually. We need to see the truth about ouselves and embrace it. Good or bad. We need to deal with it and allow it to challenge us to grow and become more like Jesus.
To be without christ-focused friends that are commited to my well-being is Satan’s goal for my life. He knows that if he can keep me from sharing my story and hearing the stories of others, he can make me think I’m the only one who deals with this kind of stuff. Thus I wear the mask and play the part. I live as though I’m something I’m not. Like it or not, I need you to be real. I need you to encourage me and help me see my blind spots. (I’ve gottem for sure) I need you to help me be my best and truest self. I need Jesus’ followers to help me follow Jesus.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
At New Community, we seek to create these kinds of friendships. The kind of friendships that can grow over the years and be inspiring and uplifting to our hearts. People who help build us up and put energy into our spirits. We want to create environments where you can be yourself and talk about life the way it really is. We call these environments “Life Groups”. For those that take advantage of these groups I see tremendous encouragement and growth taking place in their lives. It really is the church in its most authentic expression. It is people caring for each other and seeing to each other’s hopes and dreams as well as wounds and hurts. Life upon life.
These groups are not perfect, but they are life-giving. They have real people just like you desiring to walk a real walk and talk a real talk. They can help us keep it real. They meet in homes at various times during the week. Some meet at day and some at night. The structure is very simple. Whatever was shared in the weekend services is discussed in the group. Members share their stories (if they want to) of how they are trying to live the life of Jesus and they encourage each other. No preaching. No unwanted advice giving. Just friends helping friends to know Jesus a little better. There is prayer at the end for whatever needs praying for and then we go home. Pretty simple huh? Simple yet powerful for those who partake.
Life Groups are forming now and a list will be provided this weekend in our services. It will be posted on our website as well. Please consider being a part of giving and receiving life at New Community. Join a Life Group.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
Trying my best to keep it real,