In my last post, I shared some thoughts on how to renew our minds so we fight error with truth. While any of it could be done in some form of Christian community (small group, bible study, discipleship relationships, etc.), it might have felt more individualistic. The ninth point in that post highlighted just how important a community, or a group of Christians living life together, is for thinking biblically together.
We could go to plenty of places in Scripture to see this, but consider Ephesians 4.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:11-16)
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:25, 29)
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul says God gives leaders in the church to equip the church body to do the “work of the ministry” and build one another up. It’s the body as a whole—not just the leaders and paid staff or elders—that helps one another mature in Christ. How does that happen? It happens by believers speaking the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15-16). It happens as we use our words to help each other think biblically, and therefore, help each other mature in Christ.
While we should personally pursue ways of renewing our mind on our own, we also need help. We often get stuck in our thoughts or can only see things from one perspective. If we have unbelief, wrong doctrine, are trapped in lies, have a skewed perspective, get stuck in a pattern of thinking, or feel so mentally and spiritually weak that we can’t speak truth to ourselves, we need God’s people to come around us and speak truth and grace to us to help us think.
We’re often blinded by lies or deceived and trapped by them. It’s not that we can’t see or discover the lies that tempt us, but often we struggle with doing so. But, the people around us that we are doing life with are often much better set up to help graciously speak truth about possible lies we are believing. They can help us combat lies with truth. They can speak the gospel and God’s promises over us when the lies cloud our thinking and believing.
With that in mind, here are some Ways to Think Biblically in Christian Community. Ask, am I in this kind of community? Am I cultivating it and making it happen? Am I doing this for others and are others doing this for me? All of these would build on and include the ideas in yesterday’s post, but they add to it and provide a group focus.
- Regularly gather with God’s people on Sunday where the Word, Bible-centered songs, the ordinances, and fellowship can weekly speak into your life and better help you to think in line with God’s Word. Join a smaller community centered around God’s Word that provides a place to personally apply God’s truth to our lives.
- Place yourself in healthy biblical communities that can help you in your thinking in a way that is full of both grace and truth. Be this kind of person and community for those around you. If you’re not in a group like this, join one. If you are but don’t feel like people are living this out, don’t wait for others to do but lead by humble example.
- Be honest and vulnerable by sharing your thoughts, beliefs, lies, worries, and fears with others. People can’t read your mind and therefore can’t speak truth to you and help you think in community if you do not open up.
- Take a posture of humility and listening as others speak truth—sometimes encouraging and sometimes a word that might be hard to hear—into your life and challenge your thinking. This doesn’t mean sit back in silence or that you can’t share the thinking behind your thinking, but be willing to listen and consider.
- Speak the gospel to one another. We all need reminders of who God is, what is true of us in Christ, what we have in Christ, that God is for us and not against us, that we are defined not by our works but by Christ’s work for us, and that God’s mercy and grace showers us. The best thing you can do to help Christ’s body isn’t to share your thoughts and opinions but to point people to God and remind them what they have in Christ.
- Because so many Christians are prone to guilt, seeing their failures, and even lacking assurance, cultivate a community that helps one another thinking biblically through biblical affirmation and encouragement. Tell one another where and how (specifically) you see God at work in their life. We might not see our own growth so at times we need others to help us see how God is working in us and how we’ve grown (however small).
- Regularly talk about God in community, including seeing and thanking him for all his many blessings, plan, provision, and work in our lives. Praise him to one another for what you learn or know to be true about God. To think rightly about God we need to do so out loud, together, and often.