A few weeks ago we talked about Life Groups, and choosing to be our “truest selves” in these groups as something we work for for ourselves and for those around us. Well now we are in our “life is messy” and I think it’s an awesome opportunity to hammer home the second and crucial half of that sermon-to be our truest selves and to experience a Life Group for the transformation of the world we have to let our Life Groups be MESSY! We talked about letting ourselves be messy before God, letting other people into our mess talking about discipleship, and this is the next step, letting a community into a messy life, and getting into a community of messy lives, to find the hope of Christ.
Jacob, Rachel and Leah.
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
Okay doesn’t this just make you want to throw up. I know the culture was different but-by God’s standards this is some trash.
30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. 31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.
If this wasn’t bad enough Jacob doesn’t intervene during the YEARS Leah and Rachel are understandably hating each other and having to live in the same space. Jacob played the favorites games hard.
1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”
4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.
It gets worse and worse. Jacob is spineless and vindictive. Rachel compromises to get what she needs. Bilhah is absolutely run-over in the process and taken advantage of. And she doesn’t get to be her own children’s mother.
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad.
So there is almost nothing redeeming this story. God is the only good part of this story because we see Him taking care of these people even when they’re being foolish.
We know God has a standard of righteousness. All throughout the Old Testament we learn about good and bad, right and wrong.
Except God doesn’t always follow black and white rules. Because from the very beginning God has been grace. Always and ever grace. God is displeased with a man marrying more than one woman. Jacob married 4. He is displeased with dishonesty. Laban lied to Jacob. He is displeased with favoritism. Jacob. He is displeased with jealousy. Rachel and Leah.
You’ll find all these names in the lineage of God’s son. Jesus Christ. And it’s fitting. Because Jesus is grace personified. He is righteousness personified. His life is what redeems Jacob, Leah, Rachel, and Laban. In their very blood. God is incredible. And He always uses the messiest people.
So in Life Group people worry about if they are too this or too that to be a part of this group of Christians. And I promise, nobody is too messy to be loved by God and NOBODY is too messy to be loved by their Life Group.
- If your marriage is crumbling due to unfaithfulness. We want you in Life Group.
- If you’re addicted to porn. If your addicted to alcohol. If you’re addicted to work. We want you in Life Group.
- If you’re so afraid of people you haven’t had a sustained conversation face to face in 2 years. We want you in Life Group.
- If you’re chased everyday by that guilt you can’t shake. We want YOU in Life Group.
- If you don’t look like anybody else, feel like anybody else, etc. we want YOU in Life Group.
Creating a “culture” in Life Group
That’s not a bad thing. The culture we create in our Life Groups happens naturally and is a good one generally of pursuing the LORD and holding each other accountable. But if we go too long without extending the grace of evangelism-that gets cemented in our culture too.
If we aren’t careful, our Life Groups become a place too familiar, too polished. A messy group is a group that is easier for a messy person to trust.
You see, Life Groups have TWO purposes. One of them is walking with believers in the group and helping them get to know Jesus more and more.
The OTHER is walking with unbelievers and helping them get to know Jesus more and more.
The first “Life Group” arguably was Jesus’s crew.
Who did he pick. He picked a few religious Jew’s who were really into the culture.
He picked a tax collector. A zealot. A few fisherman. He brought young men and young women along who were in various stages of both believing he was the Messiah and then getting to know Him more.
By the end they all knew Him. And they went and did it again when he ascended. And again. And again. And again.
We understanding the Gospel is key to a messy Life Group.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Do we really believe Jesus is the son of God? Do we really believe that through His death on the cross and resurrection to life that we have forgiveness of all of our sins? If we do I think it warrants a response for everybody who doesn’t believe it!
A Life Group is one that is always seeking for the lost sheep. A Life group is an evangelism Head Quarters for the block you live on. A Life Group is an intro course to christianity, a Life Group is a rehab center. A Life Group is hard.
I think the first step is to embrace the messiness in your own heart that is contrary to God and contrary to the gospel. And then bring that with you to Life Group and be open about it. Don’t be a perfect person at Life Group. Share who you really are, share what you are really struggling with.
Then go and be messy in your community as well. Share how Jesus has met you in your mess. And the people who respond, invite them to your Life Group - and there they will find genuinely messy people, people who although they might look different or live different, are found out to be the same on the inside: messy people looking for Jesus daily.
And then before we become 14 of the same people meeting in a room we multiply that group. Then we go and be messy in a new community or neighborhood, or night of the week on campus.
That's the plan. However, I promise it will be messier than that. But we embrace that, and how hard it is, because God embraces us even as we flub it up everyday.
We will not succeed in magnetizing people into our Life Groups. But we will succeed in leaving our bubbles and bringing out our mess for them to see, and being a safe place for them to be messy too. Talk this out with your Life Group this week, and let’s get back into worship.
Be a Life Group for the transformation of the world, not the gathering of people.
Near West Location
Every Sunday at 11am
2120 W. Washington St., 46222
First Sunday of the Month at 5pm
4717 E. Michigan St., 46201
2120 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46222