“When you can’t hold on, it is vital that you have a godly friend who holds on to you. You need a small group.”
— Rick Warren
Despite our reticence in life, in attempting to explain or reconcile why God allows suffering, we can know that God creates opportunities for us to endure many situations that seem impossible to endure.
Sometimes the solutions to our problems are so close we cannot see them; especially when we isolate ourselves from others, we ironically cut ourselves off from the loving assistance we could otherwise benefit from.
This is the benefit of friendship, and even better a small group of friends, trusted enough to help in our hour of need.
The Coherence of Small Groups and Discipleship
Fellowship and discipleship cohere to the point of intimacy within relationships—when we risk enough to trust, and when we avail ourselves enough to others to listen with genuine loving intent.
It is unrealistic to assume that discipleship is purely a vertical relationship with God.
Discipleship really does rely, also, on our relationships, horizontally, with others. Within intimacy, confirmed by mutual trust and respect, and within sandpaper ministry, where iron sharpens iron, we grow. Without such relationships in place, God cannot speak into our lives in real ways. God uses other people to grow us, just as God uses us in the discipleship processes of others.
Seen this way, true Christian faith is abundantly and inherently relational—vertical in our relationship with God, and horizontal in our relationship with other people.
When Relying Upon Other People Is Perfectly Fine
It’s a lie of the devil to insist we need to be stoic and strong during tough times.
God will confirm the opposite is true. Though we needn’t be too dependent, a timely word, a loving hug, an approving smile, or a supportive task done, should be widely accepted. When we allow others to love us, such that they hold us in mind and within their hearts, we receive God’s strength for our weakness. This is a role of mentoring; of counsel; of friendship—through love. We receive God’s strength through others’ love.
We prove our reliance on God when we can trust others enough to allow them into our lives when we need support.
The genuine Christian experience relies upon fellowship and discipleship, both of which are assisted never more so than via small groups. Such friendships are vital when we are at our depths. We experience God’s grace most of all through loving relationships with trusted others.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.