Summary: We are called to belong, not just believe
When we think of small groups and sharing, we somehow have this mental idea of a shallow conversation. [Show “Mixed Nuts” video] Of course, we don’t like the opposite either. We don’t want complete strangers to approach us and then share their dark secrets. That would be scary! We also don’t want people to force us to share. But even with these fears, I pray that that would not stop us from joining a small group. We are called to BELONG, not just to BELIEVE. We are called not just to faith but to fellowship because when we became part of Christianity, we joined a community. That’s why we must CHOOSE to CONNECT. Open your Bibles in Galatians 6:2. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Let us pray…
When Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, the Gospel was under attack. During those times, there were people teaching that good works such as obeying a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” can bring us to heaven. But in Galatians 2:16, Paul wrote “that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” In the Good News Bible, it goes like this, “we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires.” We are saved by faith in Christ, not by good works.
Other than that, another problem with the believers in Galatia was that they think they can live the Christian life on their own. But we are not only saved by faith in Christ, we also live by faith in Him. That’s the Good News of the Lord. That’s why Paul asked them, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” In the Contemporary English Version, it goes like this, “Do you think that by yourself you can complete what God’s Spirit started in you?” Thus, the Galatians ended up becoming judgmental. They became proud. They became self-righteous. So, they criticize each other. They gossip against one another. That’s why Paul warned them, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other… Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
That is also the problem nowadays. We Christians are known for what we are against and not for what we support. People know us for our long list of rules. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. They see us Christians as people with a “holier-than-thou” or self-righteous attitude. They treat us as hypocrites. They think we judge people for doing what we ourselves are doing. They see us as having this air of superiority. And, there are times they are… right. They look from the outside in and they see us judging each other. That’s why they don’t want to become Christians.
That’s also why we Christians are afraid to connect. This is also one of the reasons why there are those who don’t want to join a small group. We are afraid to open up because we are afraid that people might think we are not “good” Christians when they see who we really are. We feel that people will only accept us when we live up to certain expectations or fulfill certain rules. So, we end up putting up a front. But deep within us we are actually hurting. That’s why there are people who prefer a big church. They want to be anonymous in the crowd. It is because they can just mind their own business there. They can walk in and walk out without people meddling in their personal affairs. Maybe that’s the reason why some of us here would rather attend the worship services only and you are not even entertaining the idea of joining a small group.
Yet, as I have said last week, the wall we put around us to keep people out is the very same wall that would keep us in. That wall that we think would protect us is the wall that would become our prison. But that is not what God wanted us to do as a family. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” We are to connect with each other. We are to support each other.
The word “burden” here refers “to heavy, crushing, loads…more than a man could carry without help.” On our own we could be crushed with our heavy load of problems. But when we carry each other’s burdens, we could conquer it. That’s the concept of “bayanihan” here in our country. One man alone cannot move a house from one place to another. But a group can carry that house on their shoulders.