Why Small Groups? To help us love one another.
What does the Bible teach about small groups? The short answer is nothing-but not really nothing. Let me explain. Certainly, Scripture does not give a set schedule of all the weekly activities of the church. Nor do the book of Acts or the various Epistles explain every detail of the fellowship and worship practices of the early church. However, we do get a little window into the nature of their relations in Acts 2:46-47 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” These early believers showed a great zeal for God and love for one another. They joyfully shared their lives, meals, and homes with each other and were eager to receive the Good News of salvation for themselves and to proclaim it to others.
From this and other Scriptures, a case can be made for some structured fellowship to help to foster these types of relationships. Perhaps the strongest case that can be made for small groups is found in the “one another” passages. These passages help us to understand how believers are to relate to each other. Over the next several weeks, I hope to take on these passages and give us some food for thought about the importance of these concepts and specifically how the Covenant Community Groups at CCK can help us be effective in loving, forgiving, praying for, and serving one another.
Love One Another
Love is certainly the over-arching principle that should govern all our actions as believers. When Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment, His reply was simple, yet demanding: “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:36-40; Mk. 12:28-31; Lk. 10:25-27). Hence the heart of the commandments is love- love for God, first and foremost; and love for your neighbor. In fact, Paul tells us that “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). In some of Jesus’ final words to his disciples before His death, He gives them a “new commandment”- that they are to love one another, and He goes on to say that love will the be the distinguishing mark of a disciple (Jn. 13:34-35). Elsewhere, John lays out in very clear language that loving the “brothers” is one way that we know that we have “passed from death unto life” (1 Jn. 3:14). Conversely, if we do not love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we do not know God (1 Jn. 4:8). Love is the identifying mark a disciple.
Yes, but how?
Scripture makes it clear that we are to love one another. But how? What does that love look like? Again, God’s word helps us immensely here. 1 Cor. 13 tells us that love is patient, kind, longsuffering, hopeful, and trusting. Love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude. It rejoices with the truth and it is enduring! To state it simply, we could say that love hopes. Love trusts. Love listens. Love waits. Love cares. These are the hallmarks of believers. While we can and should exhibit these qualities to all people, we must do it with more focus and intention to our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is what shows the world who we are. Francis Schaeffer said, “Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful - Christian community is the final apologetic.” If you want to show Christ to the world, love your brothers and sisters in the church! God has made us as relational creatures. Relate to one another in love. As Paul said, “Let love be genuine…outdo one another in showing honor.” (Rom. 12:9-10)