Fighting someone else’s battles …

There are two wildly over-used phrases tossed around for describing small groups in churches: “doing life together” and “living in community.”

Often when we use those phrases, we aren’t telling the truth about what really happens in our small groups.

If the truth be told, most small groups are a Bible study that sometimes includes lively discussion but often doesn’t get to the heart of applying scripture to our lives in any significant or life-changing way, along with some food, a little prayer, and leaving each other alone until the same time next week when we re-assemble to repeat the same process.

The reality doesn’t come close to matching the description.

“Doing life together” is far more than talking about last week’s baseball game over a quaint potluck meal before this week’s Bible discussion. It’s walking into someone’s life to the degree that you help them take up their burdens and fight with them in their battles.

But our small groups often look more like this story told by Aesop …

Two soldiers traveling together were attacked by a robber. One soldier quickly fled away; the other stood his ground and defended himself.

Once the robber was slain, the timid companion runs up and draws his sword, and then throwing back his cloak, says, “Let me at him, and he shall learn whom he has attacked!”

At this, he who had fought the robber answered, “I only wish that you had helped me just now, even if it had been only with those words, for I should have been the more encouraged, believing them to be true; but now put up your sword in its sheath and hold your equally useless tongue, till you can deceive others who do not know you. I, indeed, who have experienced with what speed you ran away, know right well that no dependence can be placed on your valor.”

Others can’t fight your battles for you, but they can fight them with you, and that help can sway the outcome …

“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. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

“Doing life together” means stepping into someone else’s fight and getting bloodied with them.

Just ask Jesus.

“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed,” Isaiah 53:5.

Easter reminds us of the degree to which Jesus stepped into our lives and took up our battle. He fought for us to the extent of giving His life as a sacrifice for us.

Now it’s time to live together like Jesus, entering into each others’ lives by taking up one another’s battles, fighting the good fight of faith back-to-back and truly “living in community” and battle life together.

Whose back do you have? Who can depend on you in life’s battles?