no safer place to be? whatever!

Posted: March 6, 2008 in biblical community, LIFE Groups, RiverPoint
Should community be a safe place?

I often hear it said that to have a healthy growing LifeGroups ministry, the groups must be a safe place for believer and non-believer alike. And to this point I agree, that the community of God should be a place that is welcoming to all comers, hospitable and loving. and in that sense very safe.

But what are people really saying when they say they want their community to be safe?

I fear that many equate safety with comfort. Defining a safe group as one where I can be myself, not judged but excepted as I am, “judge not, lest ye be judged”.right?

Sounds great. but wait. what if “myself” is a gossip. or a liar, or ungrateful, or self worshiping. Should a LifeGroup be a place where I am free to be those things in a safe environment? Have we not been called to spur one another on to good deeds. to encourage and rebuke one another so that we glorify Jesus with this fleeting life? (Hebrews 3:12-14)

 If safety is comfort then I pray RiverPoint Church LifeGroups are never safe. To be comfortable with your sin is to be dead to the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-9). In authentic community, I cannot hide my sin for long because, inevitably, pressure and time will expose it among a group of people who truly care and love me. In such a community, I am forced to confront, confess and repent of my sin. This is painful, unsettling, and certainly not safe by the standard of comfort. Safety is not in that I will not be challenged to live a life worthy of my calling to Christ, but it is in that it will be done in love from a brother or sister that is, or has, walked through that same fire. Ultimately, there is no safer place then in the arms of Christ, to whom this process points and draws us.

Considering the non-believer, it is unfathomable to me that we can believe it is safer to be left in a state of death and decay, dangling over the flames of hell, then to be confronted with the life-giving message of the Gospel. This is rarely a comfortable confrontation with the living the God, but how desperate is their need to be saved from the destruction they are hurtling toward. Yet we hold our tongue for comfort? Unfortunately we are often deceived that what would be safe (God) is dangerous (uncomfortable) and that which is dangerous (damnation) is safe (comfortable). (Isa. 5:20).

My encouragement to you is to embrace the danger of living in authentic biblical community. Look forward to the work God is doing in you and through you as part of a community. Embraced discomfort for a greater joy, Sanctification.

My prayer is that RiverPoint LifeGroups will be a place where we encounter God, and challenge one another to glorify Him. That’s not safe. That’s community. Let’s share it.

-tom

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