No one wants to have open-heart surgery. And, no one wants their child to have heart surgery, especially if she’s two years old. A few weeks ago some close friends checked their daughter in at the hospital at 6 am for heart surgery. No family should ever have to go through this kind of trial.
What carries you through something like this? In their darkest hour, my friends were surrounded by other friends who loved them and cared for them. Friends prayed around the clock, and the waiting room was filled with friends and family who loved this couple and their daughter.
What if you had a group of friends who loved you and spurred you on to love and good deeds? A group of friends who prayed for you on some days and challenged you on others? A group of friends who God used to change every part of your world? How different would your life and walk with Jesus be? Good, faithful friends are hard to find.
God used a group of friends to transform my life as a new Christian. I grew up far from the Lord and didn’t even hear the Gospel until I was 22. Somehow the truth of God’s Word alluded me for the first two decades of my life. When I finally grasped the truth of the Gospel, the grace of God rocked my sinful world. The Gospel changed almost every part of my life, except for one nasty sin habit that I didn’t want to give up right away.
After almost two decades of hiding an addiction to pornography, I finally confessed my struggle to a group of single men in my community group. In my confession, I fully expected condemnation, judgment, and a swift kick out of the church. Instead, I found grace, love, and truth from a group of co-strugglers.
Fast forward a few years to my first Christian dating relationship. Once again, community played a huge role in helping navigate the ups and downs of this relationship, eventually encouraging me to break things off with her because of some unhealthy relationship dynamics (lack of purity, idolatry) to pursue greater intimacy with Jesus.
Also in Atlanta, my soon-to-be-wife’s life transformed because of the small group of women in her community group. Kristen was dating a non-believer and consistently chose less than God’s best out of people-pleasing and insecurities.
Add these dynamics and community victories together, and you find a couple who committed to never live their lives apart from biblical community.
Even less than one week ago, two friends invited me to coffee, sat me down, and addressed some sin struggles in my life related to eating, exercise, and my health and wellness. They told me they loved me and cared for me, and wanted to walk alongside me to help spur me on to become more like Christ.
Life is much richer, sweeter, and better with true friends like the ones described above. Whether you’re single, seriously dating, engaged, married, or single again, here are five reasons why we ALL need community around us:
1. Community can keep us from being a fool!
Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
This is both a promise and a warning. The promise says we will make good decisions if we hang out with wise people. The warning says we will suffer harm if we hang out with a bunch of fools. We need wise people around us to help us grow in our relationship with Christ and with one another. I’ve heard it said that we’re essentially a combination of the five people closest to us. Who are you hanging out with?
2. Community helps us make decisions.
There might not be a season of life where a couple makes more life decisions than in the pre-married and newly married seasons of life. Whether you just got engaged and are in the throes of wedding planning or you just purchased your first home, community should play a major role in our decision-making process.
Every one of us has decisions to make every day, and we’re often too tainted by our selfish desires to make them on our own. Community helps us make decisions.
3. Community gives us a group of people to celebrate the wins of life with!
Who do you call when you get a promotion or when you get engaged? Who celebrates with you the victories of life? When something goes right in my life, I can’t wait to share it with my spouse and with my community. Wins in life are no fun celebrating on your own.
4. Community can help you grow in your love/affection for Jesus Christ.
Gratitude and thankfulness characterize my view of community when it comes to spiritual disciplines and my love for Jesus. While no community group can force you to grow in your affection for Christ, a small group of friends can help provide the accountability and encouragement you need to pray with your spouse, memorize scripture, and read God’s Word.
5. Community can help you address your sin/struggles.
The greatest catalysts for growth are God’s Word and His Spirit, but community can play a major role in providing accountability, encouragement, and care in the midst of your sin struggles. It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Take advantage of the gift of God’s people to help you identify and address your sin struggles/addictions. This is the reason why workout groups like Cross Fit do so well. Working out in community helps provide the group accountability and encouragement people often need.
6. BONUS for the pre-married:
If you are seriously dating or engaged, run, make that flee, from someone who does not want community in his/her life. Someone who does not want guidance will fall (Proverbs 11:14). You do not want to yoke yourself with someone who thinks they can live life without community.
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The form of community is not as significant as the function of community. Whether your church does small groups, home groups, life groups, Sunday school, or any other variation, the name is not nearly as important as the function of the group.
In summary, where does this leave you? Do you and your spouse have a small group of couples to help you grow in your relationship with Christ and one another? If you’re not yet married but are in a relationship, do you and your significant other welcome the input and friendship from others into your lives? And for those of you in community, are you being fully transparent, or are you deceiving or hiding sin from others?
By the way, remember the woman I broke-up with from the encouragement of my community? I eventually married her, and she’s been my wife for the past (almost) 16 years. Once again, at the urging of community, we started to date again. This time transformed by God’s Word, His people, and His Spirit. We have stayed true to our promise and have walked through life with a bunch of other fun-loving and wise couples. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
This post originally appeared on ScottKedersha.com and was republished with permission.