What Do Healthy Relationships Look Like
Topic: Community Verse: Ephesians 4:11–4:16
“What do health relationships look like”
Theme: Community Groups is one of the means of grace contributing to every person being presented complete in Christ.
Introduction: God’s ultimate purpose for saving us is to bring Himself eternal glory by delivering us from our sinfulness and transforming us into the very image of Christ. Conformity to Christ is that to which the Scriptures declare we have been predestined. It is the end of our faith – when we see Christ … to be like Him for we will see Him as He is. In the meantime, our passion as believers is to do everything that we can to take advantage of the various means of grace by which God furthers His work in our lives to transform us. Some of these means include: the impact of God’s Word as we study it; the interaction that a believer enjoys with God through prayer; the instruction that a believer receives through the indispensable activity of biblical, exegetical preaching; and through fellowship by which we are able to stimulate one another to love and good works. It is through these means that believers are able to be furthered along in their progress in conformity to Christ. The goal is to enable every believer to be presented “complete” in Christ Jesus. Each of these means of grace as crucial – and the neglect of any of them results in spiritual detriment.
This month, the elders desire to emphasize the means of grace that is provided here at GBC through the community groups. Our desire is to provide an orientation that shifts our collective perspective to embrace the concepts of “community” – that is, that we are stronger as believers collectively than we are as individuals. Engaging in Spirit-enhanced relationships with believers with whom familiarity produces growth in Christ-likeness is what God intends for each of us.
I. Community: The Priority of Companionship
A. The Declaration of God
- God has created each of us essentially the same – we all have common needs that inevitably characterize us.
- One of these needs was identified by God before the Fall occurred – we are created with the need for companionship – cp. Genesis 2:18
- This marital determination can be expanded to describe every believer – married or single – we need other believers in order to find the kind of spiritual companionship that will promote the growth that God intends.
- Married couples have things to contribute to singles and singles have ministry obligation to couples – as we interact through the Holy Spirit … community group is clearly where this is most naturally fulfilled.
B. The Design by God
- God has designed us to thrive in the context of community – when others gather around us and interact with us to the glory of Christ Jesus – cp. Hebrews 10:23-25
- Individualism is an obstacle to spiritual growth as God’s design is that we support one another through the challenges that life presents – cp. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
- So often, people tearfully confess that they feel alone, that they cannot get “plugged in,” or they don’t “fit in.”
- Social – or secular – “community” cannot advance the conformity to Christ that the spiritual “community” within the Body of Christ can.
- Only through community within the church can true fellowship “in the Light” promote conformity to Christ – cp. 1 John 1:7.
- This is not only true of individuals, but it can also be true of couples – who feel disconnected, isolated, and lonely – and as a result, they fail to prosper spiritually.
- In that we are made in the image of God, God is a social Being – enjoying fellowship between the members of the Godhead – cp. John 17:11, 21-22
- The great agony of heart in Jesus suffering was the sense of isolation that He felt from God when the Father turned away from His Son – cp. Matthew 27:46
- Loneliness is not God’s design for the believer – His intention is that we exercise our faith together with other believers with whom caring, loving, intimate relationships are developed and true ministry can be exchanged – cp. John 13:34-35; Romans 12:10; 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 4:1.
- We all desire to engage in a small number of people who we can trust and who can trust us to push them in the midst of challenges, trials, temptations, sins and all of life’s circumstances closer to Christ.
- This will not happen effectively in a group of 400 people – it takes engaging in a smaller, more intimate community of 8-10 other saints who carry “passports” stamped by you!
- What causes a believer to neglect developing spiritual companions within the church?
- How does companionship provide enhancement to one’s spiritual development?
- What result does loneliness have in the dissatisfaction that people have toward the church?
What is the Body of Christ to Do?
Last week we looked at the reality that the Body of Christ exists as a network of relationships – that God has designed individual believers to be more effective in meaningful relationships than as individuals. He has created us to be relational beings as He is, and that in order to thrive in our growth in godliness and Christlikeness, we must be pursuing relationships with other believers. Today we want to advance our awareness of this truth by looking at “What” the Body of Christ does to establish relationships that are symbiotic. Symbiosis is that relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, encouragement, and strength from the other. Simply stated, we must be striving mutually beneficial relationships, not merely relationships that serve “me.” The ultimate goal of our Christian relationships is to enable each person to gain ground in their conformity to Jesus Christ. We promote greater consecration by means of being in relationships that prod us onward in our mutual love for Jesus. In this sense, the point of our relationships is the pursuit of consecration … that is, the ability to be more like Jesus Christ ourselves as well as by others.
II. Community: The Pursuit of Consecration
A. The Duty of Consecration
- As the Scriptures teach us, our ultimate goal is the conformity to Jesus Christ.
- The task of believers is to do all that they can to have such interaction within a community that we assist others become more like Christ even as we ourselves rely upon them to help us – cp. Colossians 1:28
- This is the essence of discipleship – helping others become more like Christ – cp. Matthew 28:19-20
- We cannot think that we are proper in any respect if our perspective is that our involvement in the Body of Christ is entirely about us – self-oriented.
- Our great duty is to consider the worthiness of Jesus Christ enough motivation to not only seek His righteousness and Kingdom, but to be committed to assisting others to seek His righteousness and Kingdom – cp. Matthew 6:33
- The idea of being “complete” is to be mature in one’s conformity to Christ Jesus – He is our standard of righteousness, not our neighbor.
- We are striving to constantly grow into the likeness of Christ – cp. Philippians 3:12.
- Likewise, we must be simultaneously striving to see Christ formed in others as well – cp. Galatians 4:19; Philippians 2:3-4.
B. The Dependency for Consecration
- Yet, the context in which the progress in our maturity is seen is community.
- Although our chief dependency for consecration is upon the Holy Spirit using God’s Word to sanctify us, we also recognize that we need each other in order to properly progress in the likeness of Christ – cp. Ephesians 4:11-13, 16
- The symbiotic relationship in which God has designed us to engage is essential to our progress in our faith – cp. Proverbs 27:17
- We need people to be in our lives when we fall – cp. Galatians 6:1-2
- We need people to be in our lives so that we can come clean – James 5:16. Acts 19:18
- We need people to be in our lives to stir us up spiritually – cp. Hebrews 10:23-25
- We need people to be in our lives to accept us in light of grace – cp. Romans 15:7
- We need people to be in our lives to counsel us with truth – cp. Proverbs 11:14; 15:22
- We need people to be in our lives to pray for us – Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16.
- Again, the key to our consecration is the power of the Word of God being made relevant to our lives – 2 Timothy 3:17
- God has provided the means by which this is most effectively done:
- Personal Bible Study – 2 Timothy 2:15
- Preaching – 1 Corinthians 1:21
- Personal Fellowship with other believers – Ephesians 4:15-16
- Discipleship is about learning how to observe “all things Christ has commanded us” – why is a community group necessary in this process?
- If assembly is necessary for the stimulation of love and good works, what is the outcome of failing to participate in community with one another?
- It is possible to be part of a community group and not benefit spiritually from the opportunity; what would cause this?
- What are the key components that would make a community group effective in your life?
- How can community group support what is happening on Sundays?