"Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." [Colossians 2:7]
In the Old Testament there is a story where God calls Gideon to do something pretty unreal. Gideon is going into battle against the enemy and God tells him he has too many soldiers. At first Gideon had almost 32,000 warriors prepared to go to battle. Gideon heard God's re proof and allowed anyone who wanted to leave to do so. 22,000 men went home leaving around 10,000 warriors. God told Gideon it was still too many. Finally, Gideon got the number from 32,000 to 300 and God told him this was the right number of warriors. God did this so that when the Israelites were successful it would be obvious that God had helped them win the battle.
The number 300 is still a fairly large group of people. However, it is exponentially smaller than 32,000. What God was telling Gideon is the smaller the number the more he would need to rely on and focus on God. As we continue to explore the importance of Life Groups, I believe this is a lesson that still applies. We may not be going to battle with an enemy, but we are fighting our way through the ups and downs of life. We believe Life Groups are the best environment for Christian growth and fellowship. In a church the size of St. Andrew's we must reduce the number of people to a much smaller number in order to experience true Christian community. A Life Group suggests 6-8 people who are willing to go through all of life's ups and downs with you. Life Groups offer Gideon size support through the battles of life.
In the verse above from Colossians God says that one of the results of your small band of supporters will be an overflow of gratitude in your life. Through Life Groups we grow stronger in the truth of our faith. Because of the love, support, encouragement, and accountability of our Life Group members we become increasingly grateful for the way God works in our life through them. We see God in them and grow in our faith with them.
I experienced this growth in overflowing gratitude this week. My mom had surgery yesterday. Our family was all there to support her through a very difficult time for her. In the waiting room while she was I surgery members of her Life Group came to support her by being there for my dad. They surrounded him and loved him and let him know they were in the fight with him. My dad, and family, were overflowing with gratitude for these folks who are connected with my parents in Christian community through their Life Group. We grow closer to Christ when we are surrounded by fellow believers.
I look forward to continuing the discussion with you this Sunday. I love being your pastor and I can't wait to see you in church.