First, a brief introduction as to "what is c-group?" I have been asked this before and have commented and I think that this would be a good time to explain again. If you are around our group long enough you will hear us say that we seek to be a "intentionally-intrusive, grace-driven, Christ-centered, redemptive community." However this name can sound quite intimidating. Each week we meet together, share our lives with each other, share a meal together, pray together, and discuss the Scriptures. We do not have a sermon, or a "lesson" as such, but rather we seek to engage everyone. We certainly welcome and encourage questions and deep discussion.
Last night was specifically engaging as we discussed the topic of "restoration" and "bearing one another's burdens." I thought I would jot down some basic notes for those who were there and for those perhaps who were not able to make it last night. Of course it would be silly to think that we could make an exhaustive list of notes, so please keep in mind that these are just some general ideas! Most of the information is taken from "Let's Study Galatians" by Derek Thomas.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
(Galatians 6:1-6 ESV)
Here are some observations that we made specifically focused on the first verse - Galatians 6:1:
- Paul uses the term "brothers" nine times in the book and is doing so likely to communicate a warm affection for all of God's people, including those who are wrong in their actions and theology.
- "Sin not only affects the person who commits it; it offends the entire family." (146)
- Those who are "spiritual" should restore those who have been caught in any transgression
- Those who are "spiritual" are not necessarily those with titles or positions within the congregation, but all of those who "walk according to the Spirit" as Paul describes in Galatians 5. Remember - there are no "little" or "big people" in this world.
- The aim is restoration and the manner is to be gentle.
- The Galatians, just like us today should be engaged in a "Jesus-like ministry." In this ministry we all play a part. We must lay aside our notions that there is a "chain of command" in the body of Christ. We are all called to be instruments of redemption for the good of others.
- We should take note that Paul "is more concerned about addressing the manner and spirit of discipline than he is to say anything about the method." (148). Paul was aware that it is easy to look down on others and to condemn others from a hypocritical point of view.
- Addressing particular sins in others can awaken something that has lain dormant within us for some time.
- Recognizing that fellow Christians may sin in a particular way can lead us to excuse similar sins in our own lives, perhaps especially if the brother in question is known as a "mature" and "godly" Christina. If so-and-so can do this, then so can I!
- The devil will seek to lessen the effectiveness of the restoration by ensuring that those engaging in the process of restoration are themselves guilty of similar transgressions.
- We are at our weakest when addressing the sins of another. Self-righteousness and hypocrisy are close at hand in situations of this kind.
- We find condemnation easier than restoration and forgiveness.
In all things...Christ preeminent!