Dear members and friends of VP,
Home groups are among the most important things we can do as a church in order to encourage our growth as God’s family. This year we are planning 10 weeks of home groups with 6 meetings before Thanksgiving and 4 meetings after the New Year. You will be able to choose one of four nights that would be best for you (Sun, Mon, Wed. or Thurs). I am hoping that a majority of our members and friends at VP will choose to prioritize participation in a home group.
One of the most important reasons we should prioritize a home group is because of God’s passion for building the family of God as an intimately connected and mutually supportive people. This is reflected throughout the New Testament as a goal of salvation.
- Jesus gave us the command to “love one another” as much as He loved us (John 13:34-35; 15:12-17). This kind of love was greater than obeying the first two commandments of the ten commandments given to us by Moses. Jesus loves us sacrificially. He cared so deeply that He gave up all personal pursuits in His life in order to die for us. Loving “one another” involves caring so deeply for our fellow Christians that we would be willing to sacrifice things in our life in order to love them.
- Jesus also stressed that this kind of love was evidence that we are His disciples and know His heart (John 13:35; 15:15-16). Our commitment to loving the brethren reflects a depth of understanding of the heart of Jesus that compels us to love His followers, our brethren, on His behalf in His absence. Love of the brethren is a reflection of a growing relationship with Jesus as a friend we want to honor (John 15:15). Knowing the heart of Jesus becomes the foundation for a deepening commitment to loving the family He died to create.
In our culture the word “love” does not define a major commitment in our life. We may love coffee, movies, cars and friends. We may love a good meal with friends. Or we may fall in love with a person and we would say that means we have strong emotional connection. We have feelings for a person that has become one of the most significant things in our life. But sacrificial love of the brethren involves a commitment unlike all earthly love and not typically as self-gratifying. Our typical use of the word “love” is much different than the use referenced by Jesus Christ. The love referenced by Jesus does not need to be self-gratifying and, in reality, may be self-denying.
As we read through the New Testament, the word “love” is used to support major life changes in how we relate to other Christians. We get involved sacrificially in their lives. We pray for them. We bear their burdens which means we walk through difficult times with them. These types of commitments require investments of time and emotion without promise of personal gain. These commitments are the foundation of living life with a purpose that is much more important than the gains of our earthly life. The truth is that the love commanded by Jesus is diminished if we liken it to the love we most often mean when we use the word “love” in reference to the things we really like in this world. Remember the command of Jesus:
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.”John 15:12-14
The intimacy and caring intended by Jesus’ command to “love one another” is also reflected in Jesus’ prayer for those who follow Him in this life:
”The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”John 17:22-23
“Unity” and “Oneness” result from true Christian love. We are bonded intimately together. Jesus had a vision that this is possible. The relevance of all of these teachings is that there is a goal involved that requires investing in the lives of other Christians. Home Groups provide a setting where we can invest in building relationships with each other. Gathering with other Christians in a home where there is not a “churchy feel” is a more relaxing environment to nurture old and build new relationships
I encourage you to make a decision to join a Home Group for ten weeks. The first six weeks will run from Sunday, October 13 to Thursday, November 20. Sign up at the book table TODAY. We need a headcount in order to make sure how many groups are needed. Choose one of four nights offered (Sun, Mon, Wed or Thurs) and give us a second option in case we do not have enough people for one of the nights.
May God bless our commitment to deepening our Christian fellowship and brotherly love.
Sincerely in Christ,