What’s the Big Deal?
Have you ever wanted to have a friend who really knew you, one who would know and understand you at the deepest personal level? That’s not something we really expect to find these days, is it? A friend who really listens to you, who would love you even when you’re unlovable, who could be trusted with your secrets and even those dark skeletons you keep hidden deep in that hidden closet of your heart and head – THAT would be something to get excited about, except we are dubious that such a person exists, or, if he did, wouldn’t want to be MY friend.
We all dream of a friend who would extend grace to us if we really shared our heart, our hopes and our faults. One who would hold us accountable when we repeat the same mistake, telling us honestly (not simply pointing out) when we’re wrong or if our attitude is off. They would accept us as less than perfect, even as (perhaps especially as) a believer.
Take it a step further. Is it possible to have more than one friend who was this close to you? Is it possible to have a small group of friends like this? These friends would be a lot like Jesus.
This is both the goal and the reality of a cell group, a B-Group. Paul calls this “building up” in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “So encourage each other and build each other up.” The Message translation renders it this way: “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.”
This is what is referred to as “edification.” A cell invites believers to be willing to enter into what the Bible alludes to as a “covenant relationship” with, AND accept responsibility for, each other. A covenant is a contract. Just like a marriage covenant is expected to be willingly and intentionally entered into, and kept, regardless of what occurs (“for better or for worse...”), so a cell of believers do with each other. This type of identification with others doesn’t come from social talk about the weather around the coffee pot at the monthly church potluck. This is genuine commitment to a community that draws it’s breath from the person of Jesus.
It is not something we simply and easily step into, though we long for it. It occurs when the Jesus in me, as a part of the group, reaches out to connect with the Jesus in you.
It does not happen overnight.
It takes time, maturing and even repenting. Cell group members are committed to Jesus and then to one another. Trust and transparency are required. The presence and a relationship with Jesus is required of individuals forming the cell community.
It is an intentional and primary task of a cell group. It isn’t the version of Christianity that we have become accustomed to seeing; it requires commitment and time. But in a bonded community of a B-Group, Jesus makes it easy. His Comforter, Holy Spirit, helps the members to relate to each other. They begin to experience the incredible relationship of His presence in them and what seems to be “vertical” spreads out “horizontally,” enriching everyone’s connection with Yahweh and each other.
Cells are not a program of the church – they are the true life of the congregation of those who have been redeemed from lives of futility and failure and given back their true identity as sons and daughters of a Being who is more expansive and loving that we ever knew.
Sound intriguing? Check it out!