Ben is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN area. In addition to pastoring, preaching, and writing, Ben has a great passion for coffee. Good coffee, that is. And CrossFit. But not at the same time! (He is also the author of Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint. Connect with him at his blog, book site, and on twitter.)
We can’t live the Christian life on our own. It’s just not possible. Not possible to do well. You can’t love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and might by yourself. You can’t love your neighbor as yourself, and do it well on your own. (Matthew 22:37-38)
In fact, the more you try to do it on your own, the more you try to continue to stir up love and affection for God on your own, the further you’ll be from actually finding it.
Hebrews 3:12-13 (NIV) tells us:
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
See, what happens is that sin, and life, and distractions, deceives us. They chip little pieces of our heart away. Just small pieces. Not big huge bites, but small nibbles. In subtle ways, we get drawn away from God. And we need encouragement!
We need to have other people in our lives that know us, that are committed to us, that have our back, that will be present for us week in and week out. We need those people in our lives to encourage us so that (re: verse 13) our hearts won’t be hardened, and so that we don’t turn away from God. Because what happens is that, in the middle of our disappointments and frustrations with God, in the midst of pain and confusion and “life,” if we’re living life in isolation, outside of community, nobody even recognizes that we’re sliding away from God. And that should terrify us.
We know how to wear the mask, don’t we? We’re pretty good at acting like everything’s great and Like life’s grand…we can dress the dress and talk the talk. We know how to put on the right look…and take notes and sing songs…but the whole time we’re going, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’m caving in on the inside.”
What we need is community. We need a place to get connected, to build those relationships with people who love us, who want what’s best for us, and who will encourage us to keep fighting for our heart. We need people to help us continue to pursuing Jesus. And that’s exactly why I wrote Starting Small. To help churches, and individuals, launch small groups and sustain health over time.
Distractions are coming. Life is coming. Pain and confusion and disappointments are coming. Surround yourself with people now.