“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” — Galatians 6: 2-3.

One of the great realities of the Christian life is that it was meant to be shared together. Jesus knew that the life He was calling his disciples to would be difficult, and that none of us could do this on our own. So he established His church and designed it to function in community. We are totally dependent upon Him, but also upon one another.

In McFarland USA, we see that developing relationships takes time and effort. Those relationships are developed in part by participation in a cross-country team. If you’ve ever run cross-country, long distances, or even marathons, then you will appreciate the importance of support from others. Sometimes it’s the spectators who’ve made the effort to get alongside the track and cheer you along. Sometimes it’s your fellow runners who encourage you. It’s so helpful to have a running buddy who keeps pace with you, urges you up the hills, or sticks with you when you hit the wall. It’s tough trying do it all on your own.

God wants us to be there for each other. As we run the race, we shouldn’t have to do it alone. We’re urged to keep up with one another often. We need each other: the support, the encouragement, the help along the way. The Christian life is not easy and there are so many hills and valleys along the way. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  

We are urged to consider how – to think in advance – about how we can help each other grow in Jesus. That requires us to understand what they are going through and work on ways to help them. Maybe someone is having trouble with a child, or having financial difficulties or struggling with doubt. Make regular contact with them. Tell them about what you’ve been praying, ask for ways you could help them, show a spiritual interest in them. Look for opportunities to demonstrate Christ-like love for them. 

God gives us community as a way to become more like Him. God’s Word reminds us that we are put in relationships in order to encourage one another in our pursuit of God and His Kingdom. There is something real about the concept of power in numbers. When we are surrounded by other believers, we feel empowered in our faith and may even be more sensitive to God’s presence in our lives. There’s something powerful about believers joining together, making each other accountable and being a sort of witness of one another’s lives. We need people checking in on us, asking the hard questions, and challenging us to really live out our faith. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have someone or a group of people that you can be authentic, be yourself with, without any facades or false fronts? 
  2. Do you have people that you share your heart with, good and bad?
  3. Small groups are about doing life together. A place where you can grow closer to God, closer to others, and closer to your purpose. Agree or disagree?
  4. If you are not a member of a small group, please consider joining one this semester.