Today is part one of a three part series. For the past two years I have been blessed to travel around the country and speak to various gatherings of Christians. In each of these talks I have spoken about the importance of being a part of an active, authentic, group of Christian friends.
As I have explained in previous 4thdayletters, God put it on my heart to form Broken Door Ministries to provide one hour talks and half day retreats for any Christian group that invites us to share our message. Our purpose is to reach people with the message of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Many people are stuck in habits of recurring sin. One vitally important Christian tool that we talk about in our meetings is something we at Broken Door Ministries refer to as Christian Life Groups.
Many of you who read this weekly email, may already participate in some type of weekly gathering of likeminded Christians. Movements similar to Cursillo refer to these gatherings as “Friendship Group Reunion.” Movements like Kairos refer to similar meetings as “Prayer and Share Groups”. It clearly is not important what name you put on these groups; what is important however, is that we all actively participate in one of these groups.
Today I want to cover:
- The importance of Christian Life Groups.
Over the next two weeks I will cover:
- The essential elements necessary for Christian life Groups.
- The three personalities present in all Christian Life Groups.
I make you this promise, if you will employ on your Christian journey, the methods and techniques I will explain throughout this three part series they can change your life! Christian Life Groups are very simple, they are a weekly gathering of Christ centered friends! The main purpose of Christian Life Groups is to help all of us grow in our friendships and to serve as a source of accountability and support along our Christian journeys. If you are already in a group, I hope you will discover a few new ideas to make your groups more meaningful. If you are not yet in a Christian Life Group, it is my sincere hope that you will seriously consider forming or joining one. I have been meeting every week in one of these groups for 25 years.
Sadly there has been a huge misunderstanding that only individuals who have participated in some type of three day retreat similar to Cursillo are eligibleto orshould join one of these groups. Nothing can be further from the truth. Every Christian of all denominations would benefit from participating in a Christian Life Group!
We read in John 8:12: “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We also read in 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
The Bible promises us that we don’t have to walk in darkness. We have been promised freedom through Jesus, yet as I travel around the country and speak to good, strong and committed Christians, most people tell me that they fail to fully experience this freedom and light. The sin of this world works hard to rob us of the freedom and light Jesus has promised. Christian Life Groups can present the tool through which the Holy Spirit can work in our lives to restore us to the full light of Christ and the freedom He promises.
We as Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We know that the vertical beam of the cross represents the connection between man and God. The horizontal beam of the cross however, represents the interconnectedness of one member of a group to another. In a properly structured Christian Life Group, Christ can manifest Himself through each person that makes up the group. When Jesus does this, it allows each person in the group to lift up the others in the group as well.
Catholic Arthur Dan Burke asks this question. “How are the brake lights on your car? Are they working properly?” The bottom line is this, in the normal course of life, you would never know that one of your brake lights was broken unless someone else revealed it to you. The same is true about our spirituality. It often requires others to tell us when our spiritual brake lights are broken.
St. Catherine of Sienna Records that God told her: “For I could well have supplied you with all your needs, both spiritual and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another…”
Friends, we are interdependent people. We all lack self-knowledge. Meeting weekly with other Christians can help us remove something that all spiritual writers agree is one of the most common obstacles to substantial growth in holiness, the lack of self-knowledge.
I will discuss more on the mechanics of these weekly gatherings of Christian friends over the next two weeks but for today let me say this; in order for these groups to truly help us on our journey we should make a commitment toparticipate continuously without stopping for the balance of our life. We should work hard to make sure that each member of the group is constantly progressing in their relationship with God. Finally and most importantly, these groups must be authentic. These groups present us with the chance to be real and to take off our masks and to reveal any issues that disrupt our relationship with our God.
Does God intend for us to be a part of a small Christian community? In Mark 6:6-7 we read: “he sent them out two by two“. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 we read: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
To be quite clear there is a specific methodology needed each week in these gatherings to insure that they help us with our attempt to be committed followers of Jesus Christ. These gatherings are not a bible study nor are they a place to gather and talk about what is going on in your local church. They are not a place for planning future Christian projects. They are however, a place where we hold each other accountable. Next week I will describe in detail the specific steps needed to assure that these groups help us to develop and sustain a closer and deeper relationship with Jesus.
I think the best thing I can share with you to sum up why we should be in a Christian Life Group comes from Galatians 6:2. In it we read: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Be sure not to miss the next two weeks of 4thdayletters as we explore this topic futher.
We praise and thank you God for the gift of fellowship and Christ-centered friendships. Help us to create an environment in our groups that foster healing, growth and spiritual maturity. Lord when we meet each week strip us of our pride, make us humble and contrite and allow us to radiate the love of your son our savior Jesus Christ to each other, amen.