There are so many wonderful things when you gather with friends around the Word of God! I always look forward to hearing my friends talk about what the Word is doing in them, about how God has been working in their lives, and to see the changes that have taken place in their lives as a result of study.
Sharing our lives is something that’s very biblical. At Equipped for Life we call it Exposed Christian Living, and those who join us are our “One Another’s”. The concept is that our Christian lives were meant to be lived in community. We work together to create an environment that encourages transparency and vulnerability, as opposed to a closed and solitary life. The reason we work toward that is that the Word is pretty clear that we were designed to live as part of a group, not as a lone Christian.
In the parable of the Lost Sheep, we see Jesus as the Good Shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go get the one. When he does find that lamb, he returns it to the flock. In contrast to that parable, sometimes we try to live our Christians lives in seclusion. We have the attitude of “just me and Jesus – that’s all I need.” That attitude is not the one illustrated in this parable. The Good Shepherd did what was best for the lamb by taking it back to the group! Even better than a solitary life with Jesus is a life lived in community with other sheep and Jesus! If the Good Shepherd had built a little hut and chosen to stay with the lost lamb in their own hermitage, we’d have a very different picture of the church. But we’re a body – we’re part of a group, and it’s in our best interest to be part of that group! Living in the group is even better than being with Jesus! That’s powerful!
Paul talks about the Body of Christ being a group that has many members. Each member has a job and a skill set and is put in the body for a specific reason. That illustrates that we’re all small members of a big group that exists to show Jesus to the world! It’s in our best interest to be part of that group!
A couple of years ago when we’d first gotten our new puppy, we had some friends over for an evening. As we were sitting around chatting, the puppy lay on the footstool in the middle of the room, rolled on her back with all her undersides showing, and went to sleep. You may think I’m strange, but that had a powerful impact on me. I thought it was a great picture of how God wants me to live my life – totally comfortable and relaxed while being completely vulnerable and unprotected.
Since then I’ve carried that picture as a goal of my life. Not only do I want to feel that comfortable with vulnerability, but I want to create community of Christians who feel that comfortable with it. I want people to be able to expose all of their tender parts – their hurts and hopes and wishes – and feel no threat. I want them to feel safe whenever they are around their One Another’s as they choose to live a life of Exposed Christian Living!