you’re going to go through a lot of problems unnecessarily and about the time you figure it all out, you’re dead! You don’t have enough time to learn everything on your own. So God says you can short-circuit that process and learn a lot more quickly if you learn from the experiences of others. Nobody knows everything. We’re all ignorant, just on different subjects. So we’re to share our experience with others.
Second, the Bible says we’re to share our homes. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:9, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Some have paraphrased that verse with these words – “Open up your homes to each other.” It doesn't say open up your homes to each other if they are really nice ones. It doesn’t say open up your homes to each other when they’re clean. It doesn’t say open up your homes to each other when you’ve finished decorating. It simply says, “Open up your homes to each other.” So why are we to share our homes? Because you can’t fellowship in a crowd. You can only fellowship in a small group. For the most part, we’re not going to do any fellowshipping here today. It is impossible to fellowship sitting in rows listening to one person talk. We can worship here together. We can celebrate together. We can learn together. But no significant fellowship will take place in this service. You’re going to walk out of here not knowing anybody better than you do right now. Fellowship only takes place in small groups. And that’s why the Bible says open up your homes to each other. That’s where you really get to know people. Did you know in the first 300 years of Christianity, there were no church buildings? All church meetings were held in homes – all of them. And that, by the way, was the fastest period of growth for the church.
One of the reasons we keep saying, “Go get in a small group” is because that’s a biblical principle. Christians are supposed to meet in homes. An article came out recently documenting what many of us already know about why the sense of community is not very strong in suburban areas. One of the major culprits, this article said, is automatic garage door openers. Before there were garages – and that was before World War 2 – people had to park outside and walk across a big lawn. Now you can drive out of your garage and come back to your garage and never see your neighbors. So that’s why the Bible says, “Open up your homes.” Make it a priority to share your home and your lives with your friends.
Third, not only do we share our experiences and our homes, the Bible says – No. 3, we’re to share our problems. We’re not meant to face our problems alone. The Bible says share each other’s troubles and problems. When you share a joy, it is doubled; and when you share a problem, it is cut in half. Now please understand that you don’t have to fix everybody’s problem. God doesn’t require us to do that. But we are to share our problems and to offer sympathy and encouragement and hopefully some wisdom.
And you’re never going to go to this second level of fellowship until you get into a small group. That’s why the Bible says this in Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Instead, let us encourage one another.” I hope you’ll never give up this habit that some of you are starting for the first time in the 40 Days campaign, because you’re always going to need the support and encouragement that you