In our overworked, hurried, and self-focused culture, it’s easy for us to go days at a time without having a substantive conversation with another human being. The phrase, “How are you?” is rarely met with an honest reply, and I’ve become more and more convinced that many of us are living in a kind of silent suffering on account of repressing the true condition of our hearts. Furthermore, Christian culture can sometimes encourage and exacerbate such repression as we try to maintain the appearance of “having it all together” as we attempt to convince ourselves and others that we aren’t struggling with any of those really “bad” sins, that our relationship with our spouse and children are just fine, and that our relationship with Christ is right on track.
Of course the truth of the matter is that we all struggle. We are redeemed followers of Christ, but we still live in a fallen world in which we are continually tempted by the flesh. We are frequently hurt by the sins of others, and we struggle to control our own self-destructive tendencies. In 1 John, believers are reminded that “whoever loves God must also love his brother” (4:21). This is, of course, our calling in its most basic form – to love God and to love others (Mat. 22:37-39). This is why close-nit accountability and community is essential to Christian growth.
We are hardwired to be relational, and it’s completely possible to be socially connected while remaining totally alone. True community requires time, trust, and a mutual agreement to be vulnerable and brutally honest. I’ve recently started meeting with a group of my closest guy friends, and I’ve seen the liberating effects of accountability and honesty. Initially, there was a fear of putting my struggles on the table. I asked myself, “what will they think when I expose the junk I’ve tried so hard to hide away?” I realized shortly thereafter that all of us we’re struggling with something or another, and that there was a weight lifted when all of our garbage was on the table. That’s not to say that the issues were suddenly resolved, but I can say with full confidence that we are working together, as a group of guys who decided to be honest with one another, in the slow-and-go process of true sanctification.
Intentional and authentic community is vital to a healthy walk with Christ.
Don’t go it alone!
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)