Grow Deep - Christian Community Edition - Week 1
Week 1: September 8-14
Fellowship: Being Friends
Memory verse: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
I have spent a good bit of time over the course of my life lamenting about not having a sister. While intellectually I know there is no guarantee sisters will become best friends, in my mind I’ve felt robbed of some sort of magical bond simply due to my family’s make up. “Why, God, can’t I have just ONE sister?!” I asked on a regular basis for more years than I’d like to admit.
Even as I continued to question God’s reason for denying me this relationship I coveted so much, He gradually and lovingly opened my eyes to the incredible way He has filled my life with sisters of another kind—my beloved friends! In Scripture we see time and again how much God esteems friendship. Friends love, protect, and come alongside us in celebration and in grief. Through friendship we extend and experience the grace and forgiveness that God first gave us. We learn about how God designed us to be in relationship with Him as we live in relationships with one another. I have been given the gift of so many friends who have lived all of this out with me in every season of my life. One friend in particular has been walking beside me and loving me for more than 40 years. What an extravagant blessing!
If I had been given a sister in the literal sense, would I have sought out and nurtured these other women who bring so much richness, diversity, and selfless love into my life? I’ll never know. But I no longer implore God to explain His plan for me when it comes to sisters, and I am filled with gratitude for the friends He has provided to help me know and understand Jesus more deeply every day.
Sunday, September 8
Read: 1 Samuel 20:1-42
The Prophet Samuel shares the story of the friendship between David, the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, and Jonathan, the son of Saul, King of Israel.
Reflect: David and Jonathan share a deep bond despite difficult circumstances. Have you had a friendship that thrived even amidst incredible challenges intended to separate you? Do you have a friend to whom you would say, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you,” as Jonathan says in verse 4? If so, what do you think makes this friendship so strong?
Monday, September 9
Read: Acts 2:42-27
The Apostle Paul describes the first Christian communities who lived their lives together and developed deep, authentic friendships with one another.
Reflect: In this passage, we see the deep friendship the first Christian communities practiced. Have you experienced this kind of fellowship? If so, what was/is different about that community from others you’ve been a part of? If not, what steps could you take this week to find or build a community like the one described?
Tuesday, September 10
Read: Psalm 68:4-10
God’s community includes people without traditional families or friendships.
Reflect: Has God ever used you as part of His plan to “set the lonely in families”? Read the Psalm again, praying that the Holy Spirit would prompt you to be a part of the promises God makes here.
Wednesday, September 11
Read: Luke 15:3-7
Friends care for one another and invest in one another’s lives and faith. They rejoice with one another and celebrate with one another.
Reflect: God uses friendship to bring people to Him. When have you seen someone drawn to Jesus through friendship? Think about your friendships. Where might God be using your kindness and love to find His lost sheep?
Thursday, September 12
Read: Job 2:11-13
Job’s friends gather around him to support him during his time of trouble, loss, and pain.
Reflect: Job’s friends gathered around him to sympathize and bring comfort. When have you had an opportunity to come alongside a friend in distress? How did God use you to bring comfort? How has God used others to help you in times of struggle and sorrow? Pray that God would reveal to you someone that needs your support right now and that He would give you the wisdom to know what is needed, even if it’s just a silent companion.
Friday, September 13
Read: 1 Corinthians 16:5-24
Paul invokes many friendships around the world, encouraging his friends with his love, Christian greetings, and instructions to remain strong in the faith and to do the work that God has called them to do.
Reflect: Have you ever had a friend in need of hospitality and were able to welcome that person warmly? Perhaps the friend was passing through and you shared a meal or even your guest room. How, as Christians, are we called to receive other members of the body of Christ? What concrete ways can you practice that kind of friendship even with those you don’t know personally?
Saturday, September 14
Read: 1 John 1:5-7
Our fellowship with Christ flows to one another within our faith community.
Reflect: What does it mean to walk in the light? What are the results? How is community impacted when we are walking in the light?