God never intended for anyone to walk through life alone. He made us for each other, and he wants us all to belong to his forever family.
One of sin’s effects on the human race has been the separation from God and from other people that we all experience. From Adam onward, we’ve all had the tendency to hide in shame.
But there is help, not only from the redemptive work God accomplished through his Son, Jesus, but also in the form of other people.
Part of your healing will always be found in the context of healthy community.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
These verses teach about the principle of mutuality, and there are three significant needs met in our lives by the mutuality of biblical community.
1. We all need mutual accountability.
In other words, you need a prayer partner. You check in on each other and support one another in your spiritual journey.
Not everything you do in a small group has to involve everybody. It’s very easy, and even advisable, to pair up sometimes within a small group.
If you have a prayer partner who is checking up on you and you’re checking up on them, you’re going to grow faster than if you don’t have anybody encouraging you.
2. We all need mutual encouragement.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Once during a service, as I was leading the closing prayer, a woman burst into tears. She was sobbing uncontrollably, very, very loudly—about 10 rows from the back. Everything in me wanted to jump off that stage, run down to that woman, give her a hug, pray with her and help her.
Had I done so, the entire room full of people would have been focusing their attention on us, and that might have been far too intense for her.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to do that. All the people around this woman covered her with love. It was spontaneous and instant. That’s a kind of encouragement only a community of loving people can provide.
3. We all need mutual honoring.
Romans 12:10 says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
One of the most powerful exercises any small group of believers can go through is the practice of having the group focus on one person at a time and asking each person to express something about that individual that is appreciated.
Obviously, we can do this outside the context of a small group, too, but the point is that it’s a need we all have—to honor and to be honored.
The fact is, there are real, deep needs that God intends to meet in your life using other people. Accountability, encouragement and honor all come from the words and actions of a community of people.
If you want healing, connect with God for redemption, and connect with others for encouragement.
Rick Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and the best-selling author of several books for Christians and church leaders. This article was originally published on Pastors.com.