The Challenge: BE REAL!

The past month or so has been a month of incredibly convicting sermons. Today’s sermon was Submit to the Bible in Community. It was so good, I went back to hear it a second time ;). This sermon made me aware of an issue in my life that I knew was there, but that I think I have been a bit blinded to.

In life we are confronted with two communities – the community of the wise and the community of the foolish. As we grow, we must choose which community to join.

Proverbs 13:20 – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of a fool will suffer harm.

When we’re upset, need advice, or are going through a hard time, we turn to our friends. However, our friends may not be able to advise us if they are of the foolish kind. Our friends may advise us down a harmful path, away from God. Which is why we need wise community. We need wise friends who aren’t afraid to share the truth with us, even if it’s not what we want to hear.

We are influenced by those who we associate with, so why would anyone choose to associate with foolish people? They’ll simply become foolish.

I know from my life, this past year (since I became a Christian) has been one of great inner turmoil for me, in terms of trying to find a community where I fit in. I have my non-Christian friends who I was friends with before my Christian life began and I have made new, wise, Christian friends who have been supportive and encouraging. Now, here’s where I stumble. Wise community is harder; it requires more honesty and vulnerability. Wise community is REAL! Foolish community on the other hand is easier, but still rather difficult; it requires masks, lies, and quick fixes for sin. Foolish community is shallow while wise community is deep.

A few days ago I posted a blog about my venture into vulnerability and finding friendship since I’ve been a Christian, so it’s kind of ironic to me that this would be our sermon today. Clearly, something I am struggling with and need to address.

I’ve often rejected wise community, feeling not good enough or like I just don’t fit in. And I’ve gone running back to my foolish community because it’s safe, guarded, and predictable.

Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Fools will fail to realize what the wise know, listening is the way to learn.

Small groups are a place for us to connect with one another and share our triumphs and struggles, a place where we can pray with each other and for each other, a place where we can be open and honest, a place where we focus on the truths of the Bible.

The whole honesty in small group thing is something I’m just starting to understand. My small group community is made up of amazing, wonderful people. When I first started attending I felt a bit out of a place, and actually quit going for a little while, making up excuses (some legit, some not) about why I couldn’t make it. I was afraid of them. I was afraid, if they only found out who I really was, they would kick me out in a heartbeat. But that’s where I’m wrong, they’re not concerned with who I was because now I am in Christ and I am a new creation.

But back to the point, we need to listen to the Biblical wisdom given to us from our community and respond to God’s Word. Just because there is a Bible in the room, doesn’t mean you’re listening.

The Word is out there and we need to pay attention.

Proverbs 24:11 – Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

Being in community with others isn’t just about friendship, although that is a part of it. But it is also about discipleship.

Part of being in a community is to be missional. Be a disciple and lead others to be disciples. Care for other people, even those who are messing up their lives.

There is nothing like a common interest or task, a mission, to bring people together. We often think that we must bond with people and create strong friendships before we can do a hard job with them. But in actuality, it’s the exact opposite, doing a hard job together or being on mission together, even with strangers, bonds people together in a way that nothing else can. I’ve seen this first hand in Guatemala.

Proverbs 27:10 – Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.

If you’re in a crisis, it’s better to have nearby assistance from a friend than to have to drive hours to get to family

Although our birth families are important, so is our spiritual family. Jesus said in Mark 3:35 – For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. We are all a part of Jesus’ family because it is our mission to do the will of God.

My missional community, my small group, IS family. We’ve all been adopted by GRACE into God’s family.

Proverbs 28:13 – Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

I hate admitting when I am wrong. There’s something that is totally just unnatural about it. But I admire those who are. I admire those who can lay all their sins and wrongs out for all to see, and still be happy. I’m working on being one of those people. The first step toward forgiveness is confession. BE REAL!!

Proverbs 10:8 – The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.

I’ve got to admit “submissive” isn’t a term that I like very much. In our society, being submissive is equated with being weak. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to come across as weak.

So my pastor showed us a picture of a dog lying on his back, legs in the air, submitting to his master. This is how God wants us to submit. He wants us to submit joyfully, waiting to receive goodness from Him.

Being submissive to God, His Word, and community is needed in order to grow. We need to continue to grow.

The only way we can see God as good is through the Gospel, and if we are convinced God is good, then we will also be convinced that His plan for my life is good. God became man and gave Himself up to give us His righteousness. If we believe that about God, it is easy to submit to Him.

I struggle with picking a side – wise or foolish. I seem to have a problem with bouncing back and forth. So here’s my decision: I want to be in community with the wise. I want to invite the foolish in so that they may experience the greatness of God, but until they make the decision to enter on their own, I will continue to love them and pray for them.

So now that I pick the wise, I struggle with being honest about who I am and where I am in life, although recently I have made great progress in this aspect. I struggle with following God’s will in mission instead of my own. I struggle with submitting to God’s Word instead of the words of the foolish people around me.

Will you take the challenge with me, to remove your mask and let people see who you really are? To be vulnerable and open? The pursue God’s will over your own? To trust God’s Word above all else?

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