Rodney’s recall ability was phenomenal. He could remember names, dates, and events like no other, and he had the GPA to prove it. Rodney also had the bad habit of inserting his college GPA into conversations far too often, especially since he graduated more than twenty years ago. Nonetheless, Rodney was brilliant, and if you didn’t know it, he would be quick to tell you.
Sun-Yee was quiet and kept to herself, yet there was often a crowd around her. Sun-Yee didn’t talk about herself. She was always busy asking others questions or talking about the faithfulness of God. Sun-Yee breathed life into people and inspired them to take action. Unfortunately, she lacked the confidence to pursue many of the goals and dreams God placed on her heart.
Rodney and Sun-Yee were in the same small group and could not have been any different, but they were often together. That made sense since Rodney enjoyed talking about himself, and Sun-Yee liked asking questions.
On some nights, Sun-Yee would ask Rodney a question that would make him dig below the surface. That was a skill Rodney refused to develop, and it always prompted his exit from the conversation. On other nights, Rodney challenged Sun-Yee to take action on the great ideas she shared in the group. That was her trigger to deflect and get Rodney to talk about himself.
If only they realized their small group was a safe place to grow into the individuals God had gifted them to be.
When Jesus walked the earth, a Pharisee with intellectual abilities that rivaled Rodney’s asked Jesus a question to test him. He wanted to know which of the 613 commandments in the Law was the greatest.
37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38This is the first and greatest commandment.
39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
In his brief response, known as the Great Commandment, Jesus synthesized hundreds of commandments by highlighting two core teachings from the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament).
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus summarized the totality of the Hebrew scriptures with two commands: Love God and Love Others. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Love God and love others is the heart of the Christian faith, and it is one of the critical reasons for having small groups. The small group is a lab where we are taught, reminded, and challenged to put our faith into action. It’s a place where we are encouraged that loving God and loving others work together—we cannot effectively and sincerely do one without the other.
Healthy small groups provide the context for us to practice loving God by loving others who might not always be lovable. It’s a safe place to learn to walk before we run.
Do you have more Rodney in you than you want and wish you had the patience and kindness of Sun-Yee? Do you resonate with Sun-Yee’s fear and wish you had the confidence and drive of Rodney?
We all have an area to grow in or develop as we learn to follow Jesus, and a small group is a perfect place to cultivate relationships where we learn to love one another. And it’s the ideal community to encourage and challenge one another to step out in faith and love God boldly.
QUESTION (leave a comment below)
Have you had a positive small group experience? What made the difference?