Is Christ At The Center of Your Life?
Happy New Year. It’s 2018! OH MY GOODNESS it’s 2018!! I remember a time in my life when I thought the year 2000 was so far away that surely Christ would return and I would never see that year. And now it’s almost a quarter of the way through this new century. But here we are – a new year, a time of new beginnings, maybe a time of setting some new goals for this New Year.
An important goal to include every year is our growth in Christ. Not that I think we should make a list of things to learn or change, but it’s important that our relationship with Christ be moved to the center of everything we do. And maybe there’s no better time to commit to doing that, than at the beginning of a new year, after the Christmas rush has passed, after all the Christmas lights have been turned off and all the left overs either have been eaten or thrown away. I can’t think of a better way to move our relationship with Christ to the center, than through the times we purposefully set aside to be with Him. We are moving Christ to the center when we are faithful in our attendance and attention to corporate worship – that is on Sunday mornings when we sing/worship together and are fed by Pastor Jason’s teachings. We are moving Christ to the center when we are deliberate about setting aside daily time to spend in the scriptures and in prayer with the Lord alone. And we are moving Christ to the center when we are committed to a small group or community group. It takes all three.
For the rest of the time here – I want to focus on why community groups are so important. Please don’t miss understand, it takes all three, and all three are equally important to me. I love our corporate worship. I love when we are all singing together and leaning into the teaching from Pastor Jason. And I love the personal quite times with the Lord. Times that are uniquely powerful and life changing, times that the Holy Spirit steps in to bring alive the scripture or speak strength into my being for the day or season ahead. Community groups also have their unique gift for drawing us close to the Lord.
When we are in a true community group, we find the place where we can be real, transparent, flawed, hurting, celebrating, all without the fear of ridicule or rejection. In a real community group we can discover how to do life together, how to handle conflict resolution, be accountable to one another, how to be in mission and ministry with those that we know so well. In a word – in our community groups we find the beginning of living in the UNITY that Jesus prayed that we would live in. (John 17) We need each other to help us know the truth about who we are, who God is, and how we can live in light of those truths. Like iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27), the relationships we form within our community groups can become a tool for God to use in our character transformation. Dr. Bilezikian, author of “Community 101”, writes:
“It is in small groups that people can get close enough to know each other, to care and share, to challenge and support, to confide and confess, to forgive and be forgiven, to laugh and weep together, to be accountable to each other, to watch over each other and to grow together. Personal growth does not happen in isolation. It is the result of interactive relationships. Small groups are God’s gift to foster changes in character and spiritual growth.”
As we begin this new year I challenge each of us to be deliberate about our involvement in a community group as well as our commitment to both corporate and personal times of worship and devotion. For no one nor anything deserves to be our center, not even ourselves. That place is reserved for Christ alone. And as we respect the parking places that are reserved for others, we are to be a people who respect the place in our lives that belongs to Christ alone. So won’t you join us this year in a community group so we can grow together?