Pressing Into The Mess

Have you ever been hurt by someone in a Life Group? Or maybe you have met someone in a group that you just don’t see eye to eye with?

If you have, you’re not alone. Providence Life Groups are made up of people, and people have baggage. Because we’re sinners (to sin is to disobey God in action or thought), we’ll inevitably wound one another in Life Groups. To make matters worse, we’re all different. Sometimes, our differences complement one another, and sometimes they cause us to clash with others.

At this point, we have two choices: press in or disengage. 

I remember learning this principle years ago. Let me share a positive and negative example with you. First, the negative– God brought someone into my life with whom I just did not see eye to eye. I knew this almost as soon as I met them. I remember making a decision to disengage with this person. I gave short, one-word answers when they tried to interact with me. When they invited me to meals, I always made up excuses. I look back on these memories and am ashamed of how I disengaged.

In another instance, God gave me the grace to press in. I was put on a team with someone with whom I definitely did not see eye to eye with. We had totally different ways of approaching things, and our personalities could not be more different. I made a conscious effort, though, to press in with this person. I looked for ways to understand them and get to know their way of seeing things. I had meals with them. I shared prayer requests with them. After a while, God showed me how much I needed this person in my life. Their differences exposed areas of growth in me. Their perspective helped me relate to others better. 

What was happening here? I was growing spiritually. (The Bible calls spiritual growth sanctification. This is the process of becoming more and more like Christ).

This kind of spiritual growth only happens when we press into the mess. That is when we engage with others despite sin and differences.

This is so important for us in our Providence Life Groups. Jesus is saving people from every culture and background. That means there will be differences among us. Although the world around us disengages because of differences, the Bible calls us to love one another. Colossians 3:13 shows us that loving one another means bearing with one another. To bear with someone is to see differences, and even wrong, and choose to love them anyway. It is to assume the best in others and overlook differences. 

Think about your current Life Group. Are there people you just don’t see eye to eye with? Have you noticed yourself disengaging from this Life Group because of that?

Here are a few ways to apply this truth:

1. Purposefully get to know people different than you.

This means seeking to understand how others see the world. You may not be best friends with everyone in your Life Group (nor should you), but you can certainly show your love for them by getting to know them.

2. Acknowledge when you wrong someone. Ask for their forgiveness.

Just as much as you should press into the mess with others, they are pressing into the mess with you! Seek to honor others in your group, but when you fall short, be quick to acknowledge it to them and ask for their forgiveness. Nothing knits a group together better than people who are quick to ask for forgiveness.

3. Lovingly, go to the people who have wronged you.

Pressing into the mess doesn’t mean ignoring sin. Sometimes, it means acknowledging sin and bearing with that person. And sometimes, it means seeing sin and lovingly bringing it up to the person who has offended you (Matthew 18:15-20). Grace and wisdom are required when doing this. Checking with another Christian brother or sister is also helpful if God is leading you to do this.

4. Commit to your Life Group. 

Healthy Life Groups are not found; they are built. Help us build healthy Life Groups by committing to your group. Similar to when you committed to a spouse on your wedding day, commit to your Life Group. This means sticking to the group when things aren’t ideal or when life gets hard. You’ll eventually discover a thriving, healthy Life Group in due time when you commit to your group.