Following Jesus is a lifelong journey.
If you are following Jesus, you have likely already discovered that staying on course doesn’t just happen naturally. Every moment there are dozens of things working against our best efforts to stay on the path – some come from the outside and some come from within. Either way, it is no wonder God tells us over and over that we need each other on this journey. The need goes way beyond a church service. Corporate worship and preaching are vital; but many of the things Jesus called us to do require more than just large gatherings. (Check out the verses at the bottom.)
We need each other.
No, I’m not talking about little social clubs or touchy-feely support groups. I’m talking about a place where followers of Jesus gather together to keep each other going – to keep learning, growing, and moving forward. When life gets hard, and temptations get strong, we pick each other up and dust each other off. When the world pressures us to go against what God called us to do and be, we push each other forward to stay on the path together.
Yes, just like family, we may drive each other a little crazy sometimes, we might not always get along perfectly, and we don’t always see eye-to-eye on the details. But the mission Jesus gave us transcends the petty differences and problems.
Long-term spiritual growth is the goal.
So, if you intend to follow Jesus for the long haul, then you need other like-minded people around you – plain and simple. We need time together to gain focus, energy, and encouragement to continue following Jesus.
After years and years of being around the church, I’ve probably heard all the major excuses for why some people choose not to be a regular part of a small group (or Bible Study or Sunday School class).
Let me encourage you to put away the excuses. Find a way to make it work. You won’t regret it.
John 13:35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Acts 2:42–47 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Acts 17:11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
1 Corinthians 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
Galatians 5:13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
Galatians 6:2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 5:21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Philippians 1:5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.
Philippians 2:2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Hebrews 10:24–25 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
James 5:19–20 19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
1 Peter 4:10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.