Get close? Get real? Sure! You’re all about it. You have no problem with getting close to people in your church and small group.

Well … most people.

Okay, some people.

But some people are just hard to get to know, right? I mean, they almost seem to make it hard on purpose.

Like that holier-than-y’all Christian cowboy. He’s always pointing out which movies he’s definitely going to never even think about seeing. And then he makes snarky comments about people’s music choices. I mean, even if that guy didn’t smell like a barn stall, it would be hard to get to know him … am I right?

Or what about our fair-trade fanatic? The guy who’s always inspecting the snacks and checking the labels. The guy who takes every opportunity to make Scripture somehow apply to organic farming and mentions the horrible plight of the long-suffering, undervalued agrarian worker in every single prayer. Yeah. Talk about getting real. That guy really gets on your nerves.

And do we really need to get close to the woman who jumps on every boycotting bandwagon? She seems to delight in being against everything. She proudly announces she’s boycotting anything that appears remotely against Christian principles because Christians “are not of this world.” So far this year, she’s boycotted Disney, Target, movies, high school musicals, daytime talk shows, China, vaccines, nonfiltered water, football, yoga, juice boxes, and the postal service. Yep, she’s not of this world, all right.

Mix in the girl who overshares, the dude who never speaks, the gossip addict, and the one who whines “my old group did it this way,” and your small group starts to feel smaller and smaller and smaller.

Get close? Get out! You need some air.

And … well, maybe you also need a new perspective.

God made us so that we might live in harmony with one another. He knew we would need one another, and that  we could teach one another, learn from one another, and listen to one another. He also knew that wouldn’t always be easy. It hasn’t always been easy for Him either. Sometimes we make it especially hard for God to get close to us, but He keeps trying anyway. Maybe we need to keep trying too.

Start to get closer by asking yourself some simple questions:

  • Of all the people in this small group, who would I call if I was in personal distress? Why?
  • What reasons do I have for trusting the people in this group? Are they the smartest people I know? The richest? The most reliable? The strongest? The healthiest? What’s the reason I trust them?
  • Would anyone trust me? If so, why?
  • What prevents me from getting close to people? What am I afraid of? What makes me uncomfortable?
  • What kept God from getting close to us? What risk did God take in taking on human form and becoming like us?

Most of the time, the people who are closest to us are close because we have shared experiences. We are not close to them because they have exceptional personal qualities—although they might—but because we have spent time together.

Imagine a church family where no one was ever afraid to ask for help. Imagine a community where people consistently volunteered to help one another with life’s nitty-gritty details—like taxes, dental appointments, and plumbing problems—and where everyone was aware of one another’s failures and weaknesses. What would that look like? What would it feel like to be in that family? Would you want to be part of that church?

Your small group, your church, and your corner of your community are just little slices of the world. No doubt there will be some odd characters in there and some you’d rather not be stuck in a cave with. But the reality is that God thinks we all are equally worthy of knowing, equally worthy of loving, and equally worthy of sacrificing His life for. If that is true, maybe we can try to figure out a way to like one another a little bit more.

Learn practical, meaningful ways to get over yourself, get real, get close to others, and get close to God in these new small-group resources created by John Ortberg.