Summary: Small groups series #1

Full devotion to Christ is normal for every believer

1st of the “Core values of Christian community” series

Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ

October 6, 2002

A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under an eight-point buck.

"Where’s Harry?" he was asked.

"Harry had a stroke of some kind. He’s a couple of miles back up the trail."

"You left Harry laying there, and carried the deer back?"

"Well," said the hunter, "I figured no one was going to steal Harry."

Have you ever lost a friend?

Have you ever felt like there were times in your life when those you thought cared about you left you, and moved on to other priorities?

I think at one point every person here has felt the pain of being dumped or left out of a group of people they considered to be friends.

What’s even more frustrating for some is that, admit it or not we all have a need for friends. And not just superficial fair-weather friends. We need friends that see us for who we really are. Friends that are not afraid to tell us things that may hurt our feelings because they intend to nurture our soul. But those relationships are rare.

Proverbs 18:24 says “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Wow. Do you realize what that verse says? Basically it is saying this. You may be someone who likes to meet people. You may spend your whole life knowing as many people as possible but the greater value is to have a friend that knows everything about you.

There is an old show that is still very popular today. The theme song identifies one of our deepest needs as people. And when you hear the words you automatically think, Yes that’s the kind of relationship I’m looking for. Those are the kind of friends I want.

Making your way in the world today

Takes everything you’ve got;

Taking a break from all your worries

Sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

And they’re always glad you came;

You want to be where you can see,

Our troubles are all the same;

You want to be where everybody knows your name.

Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that what you’ve been looking for? Wouldn’t you like to have a friend who is real. Who breaks down all the superficial junk and gets right down to business.

It may have been a long time since you thought about this question. You may have blocked this possibility out because you can’t seem to find your “friend who sticks closer than a brother”

The sad thing is part of the church’s main function is supposed to be to have these connecting meaningful relationships in the body. That’s what Jesus meant when He said “I pray that they would be one”. But instead some have found their life relationships are other places. And perhaps even sadder is the fact that some have just given up on finding someone that they can be “completely honest with”.

Bill Hybels recalls a time when Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian was speaking for a leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church. He writes about it like this… “Dr. Bilezikian said there’s life-changing fellowship in biblically functioning community. That was a far cry from the childhood experience of a lot of his audience! The only kind of fellowship that many of his listeners had witnessed revolved around the fifteen or twenty minutes after the service when the men would stand around the church patio and ask each other superficial questions.

‘So how’s it going at work Jake,’ one of them would ask.

‘Fine, Phil. Say, you driving a new pickup?’

‘Used,’ Phil would reply. ‘What do you have going this week?’

‘Not much.’

‘Well, great fellowshipping with you, Jake.’

‘Same here.’

That was about it. They’d (find their wives who) were having similar conversations, and go home until next week.

But the Bible says true fellowship has the power to revolutionize lives. Masks come off, conversations get deep, hearts get vulnerable, lives are shared, accountability is invited, and tenderness flows. People really do become like brothers and sisters. They shoulder each other’s burdens - and unfortunately, that’s something that few of the people in that audience had experienced while growing up in church.

In many churches it just didn’t seem legal to tell anyone you were having a problem. Families that sat in the same pew for years would suddenly disappear, because the husband and wife were in turmoil over marriage problems. Instead of coming to the church for help and prayer and support, they fled the other way, because they didn’t feel the freedom to say, ‘We love Jesus, but we’re not doing very well. Our lives feel like they’re unraveling. We need some help!’

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