We’re well into our first round of life groups at Forest Hills! For the past few weeks, three different groups have been meeting around Raleigh. It’s been a great opportunity to share life together—to talk with one another about frustrations at work, to plan Memorial Day cookouts, to laugh together, for our children to play together, and for us all to get to know one another better.
We’ve also been reading through the letter of James, and trying to apply the scripture to our lives. Each week we discuss a part of the letter, and share with one another how it might affect our lives. At the end of every meeting, we ask ourselves one question: “What is the gospel in this text, and how does it change me to live differently this next week?”
Over the past weeks, I’ve begun to see how each of our three groups answers that question differently. Each of the three groups is unique; each has a different dynamic and a different “feel” to it. That’s because each person in each group is different. Each person has a different social, moral, political, and religious viewpoint. When we all sit down together in one room, it’s a hodge-podge group…if we passed one another on the street, we might not give one another the time of day! Yet in these life groups, we find that we are all linked together by our shared desire to follow Christ more fully. During our meetings, I’ve thought often of something that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in 1939:
"A Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. Among humans, there is strife. 'He is our peace,' says Paul of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:14). Without Christ there is discord between God and humans, and between one person and another person. Without Christ we could not know God...but without Christ we also would not know our brother, nor would we come to him. The way is blocked by our own ego. Christ opened up the way to God and our brother. Now Christians can live with one another in peace; they can love and serve one another; they can become one. But they can continue to do so only by way of Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus Christ are we one; only through him are we bound together."
That’s one of the beautiful, mysterious truths of these groups—they reveal to us our uniqueness and distinctiveness as people, but in our uniqueness we are shown even more our dependence on Christ. Without Christ, there is nothing to hold us together in these groups. Without Christ, we could not be growing together into a community.
Keep your ears out for further updates about what we’re learning in our groups, and I hope that you’ll have the opportunity soon to hear from others who are participating in them. If you’d like to join a group this fall, you can register your interest at foresthills.org/lifegroups.