Community is key to Jesus prayer (Check out the previous post to read more), but small groups offer us a chance to embrace…
P-Progress (Ephesians 4:15-16)Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Notice what happens through the community and intimacy, we get to hear truth offered in love, it is what the author of Proverbs describes as “iron sharpening iron, so one person sharpens another.” You cannot truly live the Christian life in isolation—instead we progress together—sharpening each other with insights, opening up our lives, serving together, and building new experiences together. Progress is assumed in other areas of life—maybe you heard your parents expectation that at some point, maybe 25 you’d finally progress to the point of moving out of their house—and not eating all their own food, but in church sometimes progress can be overlooked.
One thing my family and I do for fun these days is go to the free aquarium in town, at Wal-Mart! It is a little stressful each time we go to leave, but I am sure the fish are now use to seeing the traumatic experience of a 2 year old freaking out as he is ushered away. A friend of ours suggested getting an at home aquarium. I started to do a little research and I found out one of the most popular and exotic aquarium fish is the shark. Cue the JAWS music. Here is the crazy part, if you catch a small shark and confine it to a small aquarium, it only grows in proportion to the tank size. A shark can be six-inches long and fully mature, but if you put the same shark in the ocean it would be 8 feet long.
Pastor Charles Simpson remarked, “I’ve seen some of the cutest little six-inch Christians who swim around in a little puddle. But if you put them into a larger arena—into the whole creation—only then can they become great!” Small groups give us a chance to increase the capacity of our tank, to take this Gospel that has changed us and share it with the world around us. When Jesus called his disciples to witness for him he told them, You’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth—it was an expanding area, a progressing witness—we are on a journey that requires growth as John Newton famously declared looking at himself, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, “by the grace of God I am what I am!”
In fact, we have the opportunity to progress in our faith because Jesus progressed for us. Luke 2:52- And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Jesus wasn’t content to just stay in the halls of heaven, but he willingly lowered himself to the happenings of earth—growing into the fullness of his mission and ultimately giving up his life to pour out on our lives his grace through the cross.