When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He told those who were listening that it was to love God. However, what we often skip over is that He said the thing that was of equal importance was to love people. We were designed for community and we need each other; it’s part of what God has commanded us to do.
In Acts 9:8-19 we see community in action with the story of Saul’s conversion. Saul finds himself blinded on the road to Damascus. It’s through his interaction later with Ananias that he is healed and then goes on to become who we know now as the Apostle Paul. Our world as we know it is changed because of the willing heart of Ananias to reach out to Saul.
Community is important because it brings healing. Only Jesus can save us, but only the Church can heal us. In the story, we see that Saul had an encounter with Jesus and was blinded by the sight of Him. However, he wasn’t healed right there on the spot, his friends were the ones who ushered in healing. We’re never going to find our healing until we get into relationships. Much like the way Saul’s name and identity were changed, God wants to change the label that’s been placed on us, and He will use people to do it.
One way we can experience community is through small groups. Small groups are three or more coming into relationship for the purpose of healing, encouragement, and growth. Really, the characters in the story formed a small group; this is not a new concept! Judas opened his home as a host for Ananias and Saul to meet, Ananias was a leader of this group, and really Saul was an attendee. Through this group of three, life change was able to happen, and arguably the world as we know it was changed because of it. We never know the potential world change that might be lying in our small group.
We will never find this purpose in isolation—only in community with one another. If we really look at it, we will find that God didn’t heal Saul right on the road to Damascus. He used community to do it because if He hadn’t, then Saul might not understand the value of community. We can see that Saul, now Paul, knows the value of community because most of what he wrote in the New Testament was instruction on relationships in letters to people.
A lot of what small groups do is help us find our next step. The only way we can find out what to do next in our journey with Christ is to get around people who are going that same direction. These relationships challenge us to grow and move forward in our spiritual journey.
Ultimately, we need people and they need us so that we can find healing, encouragement, and growth.
Watch this week’s full messages here.