Following Jesus was never intended to be an individual sport. Jesus always had His guys walking with Him. As He helped His disciples develop their faith, He sent them out . . . not alone, but together. Two-by-two.
Jesus knew how hard it would be for us to follow Him. Living selflessly, humbly, generously, forgiving everyone, giving grace constantly . . . He knew we’d need each other to keep the faith and carry on.
Here’s a Scripture . . .
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 – bold mine)
The earliest vestiges of the Christian movement . . . back when it was called “the Way,” were gatherings, meetings, or assemblies. (Technically, you can have a meeting with yourself, but it’ll be boring, and you can’t leave early.)
I believe those early gatherings thrived because everyone was known, and everyone was needed.
But today, across all flavors of Christianity, we’ve made being known and needed hard. We’ve arranged the seats so everyone looks forward and few people can see each other. We’ve made asking too many questions out of the question. We’ve outsourced discipleship to the “professionals” . . . those on staff or in leadership.
So, how do we get back to those roots? Let’s explore.
Being known comes first. If you’re not one of the organizers of a gathering, you have to be a joiner. Someone invites you, and you say yes, even though you’re scared, embarrassed, shy, or just plain lazy. More challenging is when you have to invite yourself. Remember, church isn’t a ticketed event . . . it’s about following a totally inclusive Jesus. But show up a few times, and before you can say vulnerable, you begin to be known. No expectations. No rush to confess your sins or share your story. Just getting to know people and letting them get to know you. Transparency and vulnerability develop as trust grows.
One huge point. None of this happens fast. The first meeting you attend anywhere is awkward. The second meeting is still awkward, but less so. After the third gathering, you might feel comfortable enough to speak up. Over time, as you disclose more of your story and take off more of your masks, you’ll know you belong!
Being needed is a byproduct of being known. As people come to know you, they miss you when you’re not there. You’ve begun adding value to the gathering, even though you might not recognize it. You’re trusted. People start to share with you. Invite you into their lives and stories. And you feel comfortable sharing yours.
Now you’ve found authentic community. You’ve found your peeps. And when you find your peeps, you’ve found your home.
Scripture: For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)