Freedom: An Encouragement for Small Groups

“For freedom Christ has set us free…” (Galatians 5:1a)  

It certainly feels like Paul’s words to the Galatians are at odds with our current situation. For most of us, we’ve never had our freedoms so drastically limited as we have during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Has Christ’s work been overcome by this disease or our leaders’ decisions? “Of course not!” you might say, “that’s not what Scripture is talking about.” And you would be right. But, then why have we become so obsessed with what we can’t do right now?

If we keep reading, Paul addresses the underlying struggle:

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:13

Our flesh wants the control back it thought it once had and enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, our freedom to move about and function the way we did before COVID-19 gave us amazing opportunities we’re missing now. But if you find your mind clouded by thoughts of what you’re being kept from, or your actions paralyzed by the inability to do your normal routine, you may be missing some of what Jesus set you free to be and do, both now and perhaps before.

Instead of what we can’t do, let us focus on the unexpected opportunities and blessings our Savior has provided even in the midst of our current situation.

This is where Small Group comes in.

Often, for our gaze to be lifted, we need fellow travelers on the same path to point out where we’ve lost focus, arm us with Scripture and help us see how to move forward. And we need an initial forum to exercise our freedoms through loving service. Our group, like others, has struggled to find its rhythm in this new paradigm. But lately we’ve started shifting from what has been lost or changed to all the possibilities our freedom affords to love and serve each other, and it’s exciting! 

Here’s just a few things we’re trying during this season:

  • We are beginning a new group study format where each couple “owns” one of the weekly discussion questions to help everyone one be heard and involved amidst the often awkward and uncomfortable video conferencing.
  • Borrowing from an old group experience, we have launched a “Double Date Challenge” to encourage couple’s to build deeper relationships through face-to-face (but legal!) pairings. The creativity has already started flowing to balance safe and responsible activities with our craving for in-person community. For example, bring-your-own picnic on blankets six feet apart.
  • And while challenging, we’ve continued to look for opportunities to love and serve our community together, like writing letters to local nursing home residents who are unable to have visitors.

There are no limits to the amount of love Jesus is giving you, so be encouraged! Your freedom to love and serve each other is still fully intact, and with eyes on our Lord’s example and his Spirit empowering us, it may even be enhanced!

Don’t give up meeting together, no matter how awkward or emotionally unsatisfying.

And don’t let what you can’t do stop you from all the things you can do with the freedom we have in Christ!


 

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