BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the first of a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Small Group Ministry. These posts help us to ponder the intersection of one-another ministry through biblical counseling and one-another ministry through small group community. You will also find posts in this series by Ken Long, Garrett Higbee, and Mike Wilkerson. In today’s post, Pastor Lee Lewis explores how Gospel-centered one-another ministry in small groups can become an agent of grace.
Counseling in Community
The biblical call for God’s people to dwell together in community is best seen early in the Bible. You see in Genesis 1 and 2 that there is perfect harmony amongst the Godhead. God clearly creates Adam and Eve to dwell with Him and to dwell with one another in modeled unity. Since sin enters the picture shortly thereafter, God’s story of redemption continues to involve the people of God dwelling together in peace and unity through the power of the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 12 there is the call to be members of the Body of Christ. This organism is called the church, and it is where God sanctifies and ministers to His people.
One area I have noticed in Scripture to give ample evidence and room for biblical counsel in the context of community is with the over 50 one-another’s mentioned. In reading them, one quickly sees the heart of God for ministry (counsel and care) amongst His people as they walk together. Galatians 6:1-5 offers a great glimpse into how Gospel community creates the opportunity to biblically counsel and care for one another within the body of Christ.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:1-5).
In verse one, you see one caught in transgression and the call is to restore that person “in a spirit of gentleness.” The picture created here is that similar to a doctor treating someone with a broken bone. The doctor would do so with gentleness with the purpose of healing.
Verse two quickly moves to wearing one another’s burdens and in so doing fulfill the law of Christ. This is a ministry that is often unseen and deeply involved in the care of a person’s hurts and hardships. God recognizes we all have burdens and he does not intend that we deal with them alone. The gift of Gospel community is to lay our burdens before other saints and have them met with grace and truth.
Verse two also indicates that in bearing we fulfill the law of Christ, which is referenced in Galatians 5:14. This is the Greatest Command that Jesus speaks to and indicates that the love of the Lord with our whole being leads to a love for others. Biblical counsel inside community is always driven by love if it is to be what God intends for edification and life in the context of community within the body of Christ.
Pride is addressed in verse 3. There is a failure to acknowledge where God has eased our burdens if a believer is negligent in sharing hope and truth with the downtrodden. This might be out of ignorance or apathy, but either way the inability to press into community with loving truth points to something deeper in that person. We have been given much in regards to the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The overflow is to press into others and minister this hope. This holds in line with what Jesus says in the Greatest Command once again. The overflow of a heart devoted to God is a love for people.
Agents of Grace
The first home group my wife and I were ever a part of as a married couple taught us much in regards to godly counsel within Gospel community. I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease when I was 14 years old. When I married my wife at 25, I was in very poor health. There was a span of about 5 months where I was in and out of the hospital and usually for long stints. We were young in our marriage and overwhelmed at what was happening with my health. My stays in the hospital would usually be 10 days long, so my wife would stay the night in the room and get up early to go to work.
This was a draining time for both of us and many fears and anxieties began to grip our hearts. Our home group began to come up every evening to minister to us. The women would take my wife to dinner and love on her while the men would sit with me in the hospital room to keep me company. Many prayers, encouragements, blessings, and truths were shared with us in that season.
In our time of desperation, the Body of Christ (our home group) cared for and counseled us with unbelievable grace and compassion. Many tears were shed, but as they bore our burdens and pressed into our hearts, the Lord reminded us of His surpassing love and steadfast presence. Our fears and anxieties were not anchoring points for us anymore. Our hearts were settled once again in the bedrock of Truth……the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As the Body of Christ, we have a tremendous opportunity to be agents of grace for others. The context of Gospel community creates consistent opportunities to do so.
Join the Conversation
How can small groups in your church become agents of grace through Gospel-centered one-another ministry?