Do you ever come away from spending time with another Christian feeling unsatisfied with the quality of fellowship? That you talked about sports and politics or cooking and kids but never really touched on deeper topics of the heart? Do you long for conversations to stray past the safety zone of general topics and delve into the war zone of the struggles that we face and the eternal truths that revive us? Are you afraid to cross those lines for fear of being too intrusive or too vulnerable? What should be the norm when members of the body of Christ get together?
1. It should be normal in the body of Christ to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). Why are we reticent to admit that we are struggling with sin in our lives? Mothers may struggle with a complaining spirit. Dads may struggle with self-discipline. Teens may struggle with fears. No matter who we are we all stumble in our daily walk and need one another’s help to get up again. The Greek word used in James 5:16 for “confess” means to acknowledge something that is already true. The fact that all of us have to fight against sin in our lives is true so why don’t we stop hiding our secret battles and speak up about our needs?
2. It should be normal in the body of Christ to encourage one another (2 Corinthians 13:11). Encouragement means taking another person’s concerns seriously and giving her “courage” to keep doing what God wants her to do. When I acknowledge the validity of my friend’s struggle and come alongside her with God’s truth in word and action, I hold her hand in the battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. And I hope she will do the same for me.
3. It should be normal in the body of Christ to read the Bible together. Paul commands corporate Bible reading in 1 Thessalonians 5:27, but reading the Bible together doesn’t have to be limited to formal church gatherings. Bible reading can happen at backyard barbecues too. Opening God’s Word, reading a few verses and discussing them together ought to be as natural to Christians as talking about State of Origin football.
4. It should be normal in the body of Christ to pray together (James 5:16). How often do we tell a brother or sister “I’ll be praying for you” when we could just bring it before the throne of grace together on the spot? One of my most tender recollections of spiritual encouragement was when our family was on missionary deputation. Discouragement and insecurity must have been written all over my face as a grandfatherly figure approached me in the midst of the Sunday morning crowd. Putting his arm around my shoulders he simply prayed for me, committing my family and our needs to the Lord in prayer. Two minutes later he was gone. But that shaft of heavenly light warms me to this day. Prayer like that should not be unusual amongst the family of God.
Let’s leave our awkwardness and Aussie bravado behind. Let’s open our hearts to encourage and be encouraged. Let’s turn those coffee dates and backyard barbecues into moments of heavenly fellowship.
** Aussie Barbecue photo by Ladymaggic at Flickr