So far in this Freedom Friday series “Learning to Walk in Freedom”, we’ve talked about:
What is Freedom, part 1 & part 2
Spending Time with the Freedom Giver, part 1 & part 2
Today, we’re going to talk about the importance of spending time with other freedom seekers.
Hebrews 10 says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
This is the often-quoted verse that many Christians use to say we are required to go to church. And they have a point – we can’t encourage other Christians and spur each other on if we never see each other. But why? Why does God want us to spend time around other believers?
Jesus spent a lot of time telling the disciples how to treat each other and what they could learn from each other, as did the authors of the epistles. There are at least 46 examples of what I refer to as “one another” and “each other” statements in the New Testament, the most common being that we love one another. The Bible repeats over and over that believers must not only love one another, but admonish, submit to, instruct, encourage, offer hospitality to each other. And how do we learn how to do this? In the company of other believers!
But that’s not the only reason the Bible tells us to continue meeting together. Specifically, learning to heal, but also to walk out our freedom, always happens in the context of community. This isn’t something we can learn alone. I think one of the biggest lies the enemy tries to convince us of is that all I need to heal is me & God: no one else. That’s simply not true and frankly, it’s not Biblical. In James 5:16, it says “confess your sins to one another (notice it doesn’t say “To God alone”), and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” It’s talking about believers. There is something about confessing our sins that continues to put the secrecy of sin to death, silences the lies we’re believing about ourselves and about our sin, and ultimately brings healing into our lives.
It’s completely inaccurate to think that the Christian walk is something we can live out in our prayer closets. And, again, not Biblical.
You may be reading this blog not for your own struggle, but because of a loved one who is struggling with a life-controlling issue. This point is just as important to you.
In John 11, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and Lazarus emerged from the tomb, Jesus told those who were there to “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Who was at the tomb? Mary, Martha and a crowd of Jews.
Was it easy for those people to even consider unwrapping Lazarus? Jews were forbidden to touch a dead person, but Jesus saw something quite different.
He saw through the grave clothes.
Jesus saw someone who once was dead, but was now alive. He saw a new creation, and He didn’t ask that others be involved in the healing process. He didn’t say, “would you mind taking off his grave clothes?” He commanded that they be involved. It wasn’t something Lazarus could have done himself. He was still all bound up. So we need to allow other believers to be involved in the healing process. It’s not only Biblical, but God commands it.
Sometimes we try to buck up, be strong, & get through things on our own, but that’s not what God requires of us. Instead, God calls us to be utilize His strength, not our own. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about this very concept when God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul says that because of this, he will boast (or confess) “all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” You cannot avoid this concept in the Bible; you will run into it again & again.
So we need other believers – to learn about God, to learn how to love and to bring freedom and healing in our lives. And not just recovery-oriented groups. At the ministry I direct, we have a strong suggestion that, in addition to regular church involvement, people also be involved in a church small group and not another recovery group. We have found that another invaluable component to the healing process. Recovery-oriented groups are not necessarily an accurate representation of what it looks like to build relationships with those outside of recovery-oriented ministries.
Spend time with other freedom seekers. Remember the transparency of Jesus, that there was a level of transparency He reserved only for certain people in His life. Not everyone needs to know all our business, but a few people need to know most of it. Find people who are not afraid to be weak, who talk about sin and struggle in an honest and redemptive way.
I’ve actually written a whole article on how to build healthy relationships. There’s definitely a lot more to be said on this topic, so feel free to read it 🙂
Next week? Act like a free person.