Pt. 6 - Circle Component 5
Circles are everywhere. Entertainment. Games. TV Shows, Sports. And in Science.
In his book, The Book of Circles, Manuel Lima when talking about circles says “You see that in different areas of the globe, in different areas of time. You can see there’s some sort of fascination.” “Thousand years ago, he says, the circle infiltrated every area of human knowledge, from architecture and urban planning to linguistics and objects. Today, it remains a dominant form in the world of information design. But that still doesn’t explain its omnipresence. He says "We know that humans are more attracted to curvilinear shapes than angular shapes, something backed by several recent studies. “It goes back to primitive roots in nature, where most shapes are curvilinear,” he says. “They’re softer, they provide some safety, as opposed to angular shapes–the teeth of an animal, the hard shape of a rock. Those are signifiers of danger.”
So, you can't escape circles. And of course, circles is another way of saying relationships.
We instinctively seem to know that our circle determines our course. Our friends determine our future. We agree that those close matter most.
We have declared that we must know how a circle is supposed to function. If we don't, then we either never fully tap into or harness the benefit of a circle or we exit or sabotage the circle available to us because we are unwilling to pay the price of transparency, vulnerability and submit to accountability that is necessary for the circle to be meaningful. The result is we either suffer in isolation while we call it independence, or we hop in and out of circles, groups, or churches looking for fruit that we so desperately desire and even envy. However, we never recognize that this fruit can only be obtained and secured through intentional and long-term investment of time. So, in time of need, distress, pain we blame everyone who doesn't respond for being shallow or uncaring or we silently wonder why our relationships lack the roots necessary to sustain us.
If we know function, we then have appropriate expectations and demands. There are some things we should expect from our circle and if the circle doesn't provide these things, then we must either demand and develop it in the circle or we need to do a circle check to determine if it may be time for a circle change. As we work through this, I want to encourage you to do a circle check. I caution you again . . . the tendency is to ask this appropriate question . . . Is my circle doing this for me? However, if we are not careful, then we will fail to ask the equally crucial question . . . Am I doing this for my circle?
So, I informed you that right in plain sight in Scripture there are 59 different "one another" statements giving us circle coaching. Then at closer examination, I discovered that all of these statements can be clustered into 6 components wrapped around one core component.
We have stated that the core component around which the other 6 components orbit is . . . love.
17 different and distinct occasions out of the 59 statements is the instruction to love another. 28% of the list is a command to love one another.
We dealt with one of the most difficult of the orbiting components which was Confess/Forgive.
In a safe circle, we are able to confess and forgive. If we don't confess, then we cannot be healed or whole. We must find confidential and careful circles where the circle mates are aware of their own need for forgiveness so that we can confess, be met with grace and together dislodge the sin and struggles of our life. If our church can be made up of circles like this, then our church will always be a bastion of grace for those who are wounded and broken.
The second orbiting component that must be a part of our circle was serve. Serving one another keeps us circled. Serving is about seeing needs and filling them knowing that as we do this others are seeing our needs and meeting those. The third orbiting component was that we must pray for one another. Praying for one another is only mentioned 1 time directly compared to the 8 times we are told to serve. Our prayers can't be a cop out for serving. Prayer should accompany our service, not substitute for it! We must learn to invite God to do what only He can do while we do what we can do! As we pray, we correctly carry one another's burdens. And last week, the fourth component was encourage. We have been instructed to encourage one another daily so that we will have hope and live holy!
So, let's continue.
The fifth component, that orbits around love, is teach one another.
There are some very blunt and straight to the point instructions to teach one another and then there a couple that infer this idea as well. Let's start with the blunt ones.
I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (You are able to teach one another.)
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Then the 3 that infer.
Ephesians 4:14-15 (Message)
No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are easy prey for predators. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. (Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head.)
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4:11-12
Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Instruct one another. Teach one another. Admonish one another (prod). Sing to one another. Sing to one another.
I think one of the glaring issues of the church, our church and our circles is the lack of teaching.
I realize that some would say yes that is correct we only have a Sunday service what do you expect? However, I think therein lies the issue. The lack of teaching is not a result of less services in a given week or the lack of Sunday School as we knew it back in the day. These losses certainly contribute. However, I think the bigger issues is that we have relegated teaching to a classroom with a podium, curriculum and a professor who does all the talking.
Notice that these passages I read to you are about a different kind of teaching that I think is missing and doing much more damage than not having services or Sunday School. The type of teaching mentioned is done by the average circle mate on a daily basis. It is conducted by old men to young men. Young ladies to older ladies. Husbands to wives and vice versa. Parent to children. It is the consistent and daily insertion of wisdom and knowledge that is shared between us. Paul says he knows we are able to do this! And yet we don't. We have people filled with wisdom and knowledge that won't teach because they don't have a title, a classroom or a stage. We have seasoned and experienced veterans who stay silent because they are afraid the young don't want to hear what they have to say. The young won't offer any insight because they despise their own youth. The result is we walk around weak all week waiting on one guy to have all the answers on a Sunday morning. There is a better way! You are the better way. It is as you speak into each other's lives that wisdom, instruction, and direction is gained. It is as we sing to one another that we share life, hope, and strength. It as we admonish, correct, rebuke that we teach each other so that we will mature and grow strong. I also think it is essential to notice the basis of the shared wisdom . . . psalms, songs, hymns, doctrine, and Word. Not just our opinions. Speaking the truth - what truth? The truth we teach isn't our truth, it is THE TRUTH. Our teaching is based on our shared and practiced knowledge of God's Word.
Let me just tell you why this type of teaching is so important.
In quarantine you have a lot of time to reflect and think. I thought a lot about you. Here is what you have taught me and why I know this type of teaching is necessary, powerful and effective.
We teach each other how to handle triumph.
I have watched some of your lives turn around. I have watched you win incredible victories. I have watched you experience blessing. I have watched you be promoted. I have watched you be compensated. You have taught me to give glory to God. To handle the best days with humility. To give credit to the only One who deserves it.
We teach each other how to handle tragedy.
I have watched some of you walk through gut wrenching, heart stopping pain. I have watch you handle brokenness, sickness, death, disappointment and heartache. But you are still standing. Still singing. Still praising. Still smiling. Still moving forward. You have taught me that nothing can separate us from the love of God. You have taught me that I can use profound pain to produce profound praise. You have taught me to keep my eyes up and my hope up.
You have taught me how to live and walk. For that I am grateful! I also need you to continue to teach daily. Don't grow complacent. Don't grow weary. Don't grow frustrated. Don't grow silent. There are new generations to teach. There are new believers to teach. There are people in need of knowledge.
Every one of us is teaching someone and we are teaching something. The question is who and what?