I thank God for the blessing of being part of a church that is more than a gathering of individuals for weekly events. Our church is a community in which the sense of belonging to the Body of Christ is tangible. We feel it when we worship the Lord together in singing, when we all listen to the preaching of God’s Word, and when we rejoice with someone’s public testimony of how God’s grace has changed them.
There is another dimension of ministry that takes place in our church, and that is through small groups, whether community groups, Encuentro, Study Together Bible studies, or any other small group context. A small group is a network of people connected in the Spirit of Christ, which might gather regularly for specific purposes. The format of a small group or community group facilitates dynamic relationships in which the love of Christ can be experienced and expressed.
In one of Paul’s epistles, he addresses a group of believers in Philippi and gives them advice about how to live the new life in Christ. As members of a variety of small groups, we might identify with Paul’s first readers. We might also be inspired by reading and meditating on Philippians 1:1-11:
- Remember to hold firm to your new identity as “holy people” (Philippians 1:1).
Here, Paul addresses the believers as “God’s holy people,” which is our new identity in Christ. Undoubtedly, Paul knew how imperfect these believers were. Nevertheless, God calls them (and us) holy, in the sense of being separated to live lives that please the Lord.
- What would you like others to see in you that reveals your true identity?
- What have you seen in other believers that reveals their identity in Christ?
- How to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ (Philippians 1:3).
Paul shows by example how to pray for other believers. He doesn’t pray through a “shopping list;” he prays genuinely, passionately, bringing up significant memories of suffering or rejoicing together with a fellow believer, as partners in the gospel.
- Following Paul´s example, how do you use significant memories when you pray for other believers?
- Remember “… that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1: 6).
Christians don’t mature overnight. The perfecting of a believer takes place in the continuum of days, months, even years. God is in the process of completing a good work in us.
- As you look at your own life, can you identify areas in which God has begun a good work in you?
- As you look at the life of one of your fellow believers, can you identify areas in which God has begun a good work in them?
- Pray that God’s love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight (Philippians 1: 9-11).
God’s gift of love is the power that can affect our judgments, right decisions, interpersonal relations, and our whole Christian character.
- Consider God’s gift of love for all believers, and suggest ways in which this love could be lived out in your life.
Lord, help us to know you better. Please open our eyes to see your work in each brother and sister in Christ, for your glory. Amen.