by Andrew Southerland
James 5:15, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
A professor walks into her class for the final exam and puts two vases on the desk, one with a real flower and one with a silk flower. The teacher tells the students, “I have but one question for you to answer. Without touching or smelling either flower, tell me which is real and which is fake”. The students sat puzzled, staring intently at each flower, when one student stood up, walked over to the window, and let a bee fly into the room, landing on the real flower.
There are always ways to determine what is real and what is not. In a world where everything seems to be “fake” or has a filter on it, we desire to know the truth. Is this person being real, or is this person being fake? Authenticity is something we desire from others, but when it comes to our turn to be real with one another, we tend to put on the mask hoping that no one will know the true us.
Authentic community is rare. We ask ourselves, how will I ever be able to show my true self to others? What if I open up and tell someone I am struggling? Will they even accept me? Have you ever had these questions?
James 5:15 says, “to confess your sins to one another and to pray for one another.” Now, is James really telling us to confess our deepest darkest secrets to every person we meet? No. But he is instructing us to be so genuine and real with other believers so they can pray for us and we can pray for them.
To be banded together with other believers means that you celebrate the victories together and you hurt in the valleys together. It literally means to remove the mask and allow others to see that you do not have it all together. Humankind is not made for isolation. Isolation is dangerous, and it is where sin goes to grow. If you are not in Biblical community with other believers, you are in a dangerous position just waiting for Satan to find a way in.
What does Biblical community look like? It is a group of people who meet together, study God’s Word, pray specifically for one another, and genuinely love each other so much that the mask is removed. You cannot be a Christian alone because to be a Christian means you are part of the body of Christ. It is not enough to just attend a worship gathering or listen to a preacher online. To be plugged into the body of Christ, the church, means you do life-on-life discipleship with other believers. That is what Jesus did, and that is what we are to do.
If you are not part of a small group of other believers that study God’s Word and disciple one another through Biblical community, do that today. Find a group where you can remove the mask, be authentic, and grow in your walk with God.