When I was in 5th grade, my family had a paper route. My sister and my Dad did half, and my Mom and I took the dog and did the other half. I remember it being cold and very, very early. Coffee was an easy remedy for both, and seemed to work well enough for my parents.
“It’ll stunt your growth,” I was told.
There are many downsides to being overcaffeinated, but so far as I can tell, there are precisely zero studies demonstrating the growth-impacting effects of this heavenly brew. Since I’m taller than every member of my family, I’m going to go ahead and categorize this as “folk wisdom” and dismiss it as false.
While coffee did nothing to keep me from outgrowing my clothes much faster than my Mom wanted, there are things that will stunt your spiritual growth. The biggest one is trying to do it on your own. This is a common myth in America, I think. We like to say that faith is “between you and God,” and so all it takes to grow a mature Christian is a literate person who can read his or her Bible. But this is as ridiculous as expecting Tarzan to be a normal, healthy, well-educated 19th-century Englishman. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen in isolation, it happens in community.
What was the one part of Creation that God pronounced to be “not good”? It was Adam’s “alone-ness.” (Genesis 2:18). The New Testament does not conceive of an individual believer who is not a part of a local church. Each believer is described as an inseparable and necessary part of the whole, which is then described as “the body of Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12-27). You and I were made for community, and we were saved to contribute to and benefit from community (Heb. 11:40). And the absence of community will stunt your spiritual growth and mine.
This is why small groups are such a HUGE part of what we do at Pin Oaks: it’s impossible to become the disciple Christ saved you to be without being a part of a closely-knit group of believers. The first believers met in homes, shared meals and shared their lives. They prayed for each other, cried with each other, celebrated with each other. And it was out of this very intimate, family structure that our faith overcame the Roman Empire, overcame numerous persecutions, and changed the course of history.
But too often, we want to go it alone. We want to limit access to our lives. Human relationships are messy, and – if we’re honest – none of us has it all together like our Facebook profiles make it appear. Real life is messy stuff – but it’s in that mess that we – together – encounter Christ. It’s when we gather together that we see what Christ incarnate looks like, and it’s there that we begin to recognize the Spirit’s work. Like tectonic shifts, it’s often hard to see the massive movement of God from our own limited perspective – but when we meet together, we begin to see and experience how much He is doing.
If you want to see the same power at work in your life that peacefully conquered the most famous empire in history, if you want to see what that kind of faith looks like, then you need to be an active part of a small group.
None of us is as strong as all of us.
Sign up online for a small group here, or talk to a small group leader on Sunday!