Following Jesus is not a solo pursuit. We need each other—whether we realize it or not. God has purposed to use other people to accomplish our sanctification. One of the clearest statements about this is found in Hebrews 10:24–25 (NIV) – 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.
Consider the implications here: 1) This will not come about naturally. It will not happen simply by attending a large group worship service. We will have to give thought to this. We will have to be intentional about fostering these kinds of relationships. We will have to make it a priority. 2) It will not be comfortable. “Spurring” means to irritate, prod, or stir up. Church is not simply about hanging out with people you like. The fact that certain people “push your buttons” is actually a good thing! 3) We will be tempted to pull back from relationships. There are hobbies to pursue. There are people to avoid. But God’s word says, “Don’t walk away! Lean in!”
In a recent article entitled “Small Groups Anonymous”, Kent Dunnington suggested that the church could learn a great deal from twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.* Instead of thinking of our Adult Bible Fellowships as social gather- ings, we would do well to think of them as support groups for Christian practice. We could begin by going around and saying, “I am __________, and I am a sinner…”
AA meetings are also effective because their meetings are sustainably frequent. Touching base once a month is not going to cut it when you are trying to battle per- vasive and habitual sin. AA meets weekly and sometimes more than once a week. And they do not do a full meal. That would burn people out. There is simply coffee and maybe cookies.
Obviously twelve step programs have the unique dynamic of anonymity (i.e. you gather with strangers and only provide your first name) and desperation (i.e. your drinking is out of control). But we need to be reminded about the importance of oth- er believers in our battle with sin.
* Christianity Today, May 2019.
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