Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why We Do What We Do

The question was posed (OK, so I asked myself)... Why do we do Life Group?

To put it more specifically, why have Kayla and I decided to prioritize our weekly schedules in such a way that we are able to attend a gathering of several couples who, like us, are young and newly married Christians to "do life" together?

Sometimes we fellowship, go to the movies, bowl, have ice cream, whatever; often times its over a meal, but sometimes we just hang out. We talk about God and our marriage and families and pray for one another. There are about 10 couples in our "Life Group."

But why? What are we here for? Why do we feel that it's important to do life with other people?

Kayla and I believe, like many others, that God never designed us to live this life alone - isolated from other relationships - relationships that can be life-giving. More simply, we believe that the Kingdom of God is built upon relationship. God's plan and purpose for our lives is realized when we help others, and allow others to help us grow in our relationship with God. We invest this priority into our family because we want to grow.

Groups can be quite interesting. Especially eclectic groups such as ours. However alike or different the composition of a group may be, it has been said that all groups like these "small groups" or "cell groups" advance in relationship through 4 basic stages.

Acquaintances - Friendships - Openness - Honesty/Transparency

I'll save you the time by not further defining each stage. I think you understand what I'm saying here.

In our experience, real growth for an individual (or couple) in a group environment really starts to begin between the second and third stages. It's not until we become open, honest, and transparent with ourselves and others in our group that we really start to see change. It's in this environment that we flourish.

Proverbs 18:1 says that "a man [or woman, or couple] that isolates himself seeks his own desire. He rages against all wise judgment."

A man who isolates himself.

If I ever want to see growth in myself as a believer, I cannot allow myself to be isolated. I have a few thoughts about this verse.

1. I can't find wisdom all by myself. We've all learned from others' successes and failures. God gives wisdom to those who seek it - and it comes from God and from His people.

2. It's natural/normal to fellowship with others and it takes more effort to put up a front while isolating ourselves. Over the years, we've learned to hide from each other; ashamed or embarrassed, we avoid showing others who we really are. That kind of behavior is not normal and is taxing on us. God never intended us to be that way. It's burdensome.

3. I can't learn to live with another person by spending time alone. It's in an environment of "others" where we learn that we're unique and its in an environment with others that we learn they are unique, too. It's here where we find out what normal is.

I believe that both time and shared experiences will progress each person in a group from acquaintances to friends to openness to honesty/transparency. But nothing will advance you quicker through the stages than TRIALS and CRISIS.

It's in our moments of trial and crisis that our true dependancy on others breaks down the walls of insecurity and pride that we've built over the years. When trials and crisis come, and they will, the environment that you've placed yourself in will make all the difference.

I've already mentioned how growth happens in a group environment when we progress from acquaintences to friends to openness to transperancy. If you place yourself, or your marriage, in one of these environments, when trials and crisis comes, so does growth! In fact, all God-given trials and crisis become opportunities for growth when placed within the right environment.

So, in answer to my own question, why are Kayla and I in a Life Group? Why do we choose to "do life" with others? Because we see that in life, trials and crisis can come and when they do we want to make sure that our marriage is in an environment where we can experience growth through those times of trials and crisis. Because of this truth, we prioritize and sacrifice so we can participate in doing life with others who want to do life with us.

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