“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith” Galatians 6:10 (NLT).
I remember my first meeting vividly. There were two other Mom’s sitting beside me at the table who had already known each other for quite awhile. It started with polite, “how do-you-do’s,” “where are you from?” and “how many children do you have?”
We met at a local Starbucks and each woman there began sharing certain Bible verses that had made an impact on what they were going through in their life. I remember one of them asking me what version my Bible was. I had brought with me a Bible a counselor and friend had given me when I was going through my teenage pregnancy. But, what version it was I had no idea. The truth was that I had never really opened it, other than highlighting a couple of verses that she had suggested I reflect on during the time – which I had not done. It was obvious these women knew more than I did and it wasn’t long before I began to question – to myself – whether or not I really belonged there.
In First Corinthians Chapters 5 through 9, the Apostle Paul confronts issues such as: disorder within the Church, handling disputes within the Church, instructions on Christian marriages, and instructions on the freedom believers have within the Church. For me, perhaps the most powerful message is in Chapter 9, where Paul says, “Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ” 1 Corinthians 9:19 (NLT).
Paul explains what he meant when he used the term “slave,” in the very next verse, “When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law” 1 Corinthians 9:20 (NLT). Paul gave up his personal freedoms and completely followed God in order to bring more people to Christ.
I imagine Paul’s life was not easy and that it must have taken a great amount of discipline to live with others that were different or believed in things that he himself did not. But, as he states a little earlier in this Chapter, “Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NLT). It was Paul’s desire to preach the Word of God to others that did not know Him, and it was through God’s gift to Paul that he was able to do it so enthusiastically and willingly.
When I began my journey as a believer, it was slow starting. I believed in God – that much I knew. But, I didn’t know Him. The pastor at my Church had been preaching on the importance of getting involved in a small group/bible study. I really didn’t know anything about it. I did know, however, that I longed to connect with a group of women that wanted to know God more, like I did. It was that desire for “connection” that ultimately led me to give it a try.
Even though those first few meetings felt awkward for me and I felt much like a fish out of water, the more I went, the more comfortable I began to feel. It was refreshing to listen to a group of women really talk about life. Everything wasn’t just fine all of the time. These women had real issues that they faced every day, just like me. We didn’t have answers either. We did, however, have God’s Word.
I am blessed to say that I still continue to meet with these women. We all come from different backgrounds and upbringing, yet we all come together and agree to meet each other where we are in our lives.
Now, I am happy to say, I have a Bible that is worn, bent and used from all of the flipping and page flagging that I continue to put it through week after week. My time with all of my “Sisters-in-Christ,” as I like to call them is something I don’t dread but need, desperately.
It is in community that we learn from one another and grow. It is through the Word that we are taught the tools how to do it.
Dear Lord, Thank You for teaching us the importance of meeting others where they are. We all have differences, but through You we are one in the same. Please help us to see one another through Christ’s eyes. Help us to connect and grow with one another through Your Word, so we are able to reflect the love of Your Son to the people we meet in our everyday lives. Thank you for the blessings of fellowship and the blessings of friendship that I have in my life. May I never take for granted all of the gifts that have come from Your never-ending love for me. In Your Son’s Most Precious Name, Amen.