It’s so interesting how our outlook, perspectives, and values in life change over time. I think they’re forced to, due to life’s changes and the events that we go through and experience. Most people, however, don’t take the time to think about these changes, and I am definitely one of those “most people.”
My recent discovery of perspective change has come about because a friend invited me to a small group gathering. My inner “red flag” warning immediately went off. In the past I’ve more or less scorned small groups or “Bible study” groups because the format goes as follows: express either the topic or passage we’ll be discussing, read the prepared material, then the conversation spirals off into mostly, “Well, I think…” statements, and no conclusions are reached and no insights gained. There are very few Bible studies that have taken the subjective out of it and aimed to learn what the Bible is objectively teaching. The group I was invited to felt different.
The format of this group was still very similar, but there was something about the intent of the contributors that changed the feel from, “I think ____, so that’s how I feel,” to, “I’ve noticed ____, and this is how it does or or does not affect my life.” That slight change of attitude alters the vibe of the group to a learning environment that aims to better one another off each others’ insights and experiences.
The greatest product of this type of small group is that I leave feeling pumped to follow Jesus and live out the gospel, which is the entire goal of church, in my opinion. It does take work, though. Any time I disagree theologically with what someone says (it’s never that great of a disagreement), I have to check my pride and really uncover the worth of arguing before opening my mouth. Most often I’ll leave my opinion to myself, because the other contributor’s point is not to make theological conclusions, but to show how his life is not up to God’s standard, or is on its way, etc., in effort to encourage the others and challenge them to meet that standard
These types of groups are invaluable, not just to the Christ follower, but to all of humanity. It takes a lot of checking your motives and pride before engaging, but if you can all enter in on a similar level of understanding (which will take internal compromise on each person’s part), then there is a lot of room to learn from each other. In the arena of Christianity, the outcome is growing closer to Christ and living a gospel-centered life.