I often remind the groups of women I mentor that the strength of our group and the basis of our own transformation is in living out our faith. Our group is more than a “Bible study”…it has to be different than how we’ve always done Bible study (show up, listen to a lecture or video, answer a few questions, leave and never think about it for the rest of the week.) It’s not enough to just intellectually agree with or give mental assent to what we read and discuss. This kind of information-driven approach is self-protective and disconnected from the stuff of the kingdom.
We HAVE to live it. The words written on the pages of the Bible were never intended to take the place of the spiritual realities that they reveal. So we don’t just read and talk about the benefits of fasting. We actually fast. We don’t just discuss the need for self-examination and confession, we daily engage in reflective self-awareness and dialogue about this with one another in honesty and openness.
It means we actually have to carve out real time…real space…in the midst of our already over-crowded days to meet with God. It means reading and giving time for reflection and surrendered response to the self-revealing God we encounter in Scripture. It means practicing daily the disciplines, like silence and solitude, and prayer that not only force us to confront the unfinished places of our souls but keep us available and attentive to God’s active presence. We don’t just ponder or debate social justice, we embody our faith by picking up trash and plant trees on our local grade school property and buy gas and pay rent for those in need both inside and outside our group. We open our homes and practice hospitality to the stranger in our midst.
If true transformation is to be realized in our lives then our engagement with each other, in the context of the spiritual disciplines, must be more than the mere acquisition of more facts and shared Christian platitudes, but it must catapult us into a living, thriving, growing, changing, response that requires of us nothing short of an incarnation of our faith. So what we discover is much of what happens in this sacred community is not only for the sake of our own souls but for the sake of others.
And, hopefully, it becomes a way of living out the rest of our days…fully engaged in the adventure of a life with God and kingdom living. And what an adventure it is if we choose to participate in it! Yet only those who choose to do so will experience the fullness and richness of the abundant life Jesus promised to give us.