Almost every Sunday evening after the hubbub of the worship gathering and well-deserved (read: mandatory) naps in our household, my little family and I (and a whole lot of others) can be found squatting in someone else’s home for the evening. Sometimes we are eating dinner. Sometimes we are eating ice cream en lieu of dinner. Sometimes we are just sitting around watching other people eat. Obviously, we live a non-stop life of excitement and thrills.
After all the eating, those gathered sit around and talk. It never fails that we begin this time of conversation with a lot of laughing. We crack jokes, tease one another, recount the craziness of our respective weeks. And it would be fine if the conversation stayed at this level. I think we would all still walk away feeling loved and seen. We’d feel closer to one another for having shared time. We’d still be community.
But we never get to stay at the laughter level.
Without fail, the person leading the group will find a break in the laughter and (at just the right moment) pose a deeper question. It’s always a question of faith and it always begins with the whole of our group getting very quiet.
Last week’s question was a good one. It was two part.
Do we fear God as much as we should?
Why do we (humans) struggle with the idea of God’s sovereignty when we display sovereignty in our own lives every day?
If you’re anything like me, these questions cause your mind to ache and heart to race. Answers come crashing into your head at such a fast pace that you can’t even attempt to register all of them. Your mouth and brain don’t connect properly, so your mouth stays closed and your eyes glaze over - not because you have no opinion, to the contrary, you have way too many opinions. The questions connect so deeply with your heart and your experience as a Christ follower that your system is in a bit of shock. You are not removed from these questions. These questions are you. Someone has called your number and it’s time to face the music.
And this all happens in a room filled with other people. Your insecurity laid bare in front of a group of people you were just making jokes with.
It may be very similar to many of your recurrent nightmares - you know the one where you get to school and don’t have any clothes on? Yeah, this is pretty much that.
But the beauty of this group of people, unlike the classmates from school, is that you have laughed and broken bread with them and they are struggling through the question as well. Even the person who posed the question is not asking it with a “gotcha!” motive, but from a posture of humility - seeking to answer the question as well...this moment is not a pop quiz or an expose, but an invitation to seek and struggle and question together. In fellowship. In community.
After a thoughtful pause, our group jumped right into the question of God’s sovereignty and the human condition that is so often at odds with a sovereign God. It’s a hard question and with it came several other hard questions that revolved around the ideas of goodness and justice and our limited human understanding of those concepts. We confessed desires to control our own lives and how while we believe in a good God, there are times when we question whether or not He is in control or just an omnipotent observer.
We posed more questions and looked at scripture.
We sat in some uncomfortable silence.
We openly admitted that we would not be revolutionizing anything that evening. We would not leave our hosts’ house having solved the problem or settling the issue. We are, after all, only human. We sat in our imperfection - pondering the sovereignty of a perfect God and His role in our lives...and our inability to wrap our mind around the WHOLE of God.
For me, the most poignant moment came when one of us stated (and I am paraphrasing)
“But at least we are asking the questions and talking about them. I’ve known of so many people who have asked these questions and struggled with these ideas, but never TALKED about them with others. After years of struggle, they eventually say, ‘I’m done with this God.’ ”
And there it is.
That’s the reason behind our every Sunday night.
As great as it would be to use that time to prep a week’s worth of meals or to just sit and read a novel, I take part in this community every Sunday because my soul needs it. This group of people, this fellowship, they help me to go beyond being seen and loved. They help me to be known. They help me struggle through the hard questions, MY hard questions. They help me to see that I am not alone in my wandering and confusion. Together we wander, seeking God, and finding Him.
We might not be making a dent in the whole of theology with our questions and answers, but we are making a huge impact in one another’s lives. Living life in all the beauty and the funny and the struggle - together.
Last night, as we do at the close of every Sunday evening, we shared struggles and asked for prayer. As the prayer came to a close and thanks was being given, I heard the most beautiful description of our little group.
“Thank you for THIS family.”
Community groups are such a huge part of how we function at Christ Community. It is a point of connection. It is a point of service. It is a way to be known. It is an amazing way to love your neighbor. If you are not a part of a community group and would like to learn more click here.