I can’t say that this is an original thought because it isn’t. I shamelessly ripped it off from a facebook post by Elizabeth C. She posted, “I don’t pretend to know what loving others is like for everyone, but I can tell you what it is for me; to love others is knowing everything (good and bad) about someone, and still wanting to be there for them!”
So, why am I even writing this? Well, it could be because a couple of days ago I didn’t even know who Elizabeth was. Had I seen her picture or seen her in person, I would have known her face as someone who has recently started coming to the same church I go to. I remember looking into one of the classrooms this past weekend and seeing a new, dark headed volunteer in there working with my children, but I didn’t know her name. Can you imagine that, someone working with my kids and I don’t even know who they are. Then, this morning, she asks to be my friend on facebook. I had to ask my wife who she was because I didn’t know her.
So, that got me to thinking off and on as I sat at my desk this morning about how we know those around us, yet we know so little about them. The older I get, the more convinced I am that the only way we as a church are going to shine the light of Christ to this lost and dying world is to be more involved with those around us. I’m not saying that we have to conform to the lifestyle of the world, but there is a huge separation of those in the Church and those outside of it. There is a pastor I know who says, “found people find people!” The only way to find those people is to get involved in their lives and personally minister to them.
Now it’s confession time! I don’t get involved with people very well. I used to, but along the way, I’ve been injured, hurt, stomped on and a whole host of other things. So, I’ve pulled myself into a little shell and drawn up boundary lines that will only allow people to get so close to me. Yet, the funny thing is, I crave the closeness that can happen when people open themselves up to another. You read in the Bible about Jonathan and David how they were so close to each other. You read about Jesus getting into the lives of his disciples. I mean, think about it, he literally spent 3 years with 12 men, traveling the countryside, teaching, talking, eating, and sleeping beside these men. I realize that the Bible talks about the inner 3, Peter, James and John, but I don’t think for a minute that when Jesus rebuked Peter, He did it privately (Mark 8:33 kind of bears that out). So, the disciples all knew each other’s business. They knew Matthews good points and bad points as well as the rest of them.
So, my question is why is it so hard for us to “Do Life” like that today? Why are we so easily offended or put off when someone starts opening up to us with the hurts and trials of life? Sure, we love it when they share the triumphs and highs they experience. But we don’t want to hear about the lows. I am so guilty of this! Here is the sobering thing about all of this. Sure, Jesus went to the cross to be the sacrifice for our sins, and I’m not making light of that, but he also gave his life to his disciples before He went to that cross. He “Did Life” with them so that when He was gone, they would believe in Him and continue what He started. Why in the world would they go on putting themselves in danger if it wasn’t real? They saw what happened to their leader. Some of them stood at the foot of the cross, and I really believe that others hid amongst the crowd that had gathered. They saw the agony; they saw the shredded body; they saw the blood; they heard the anguish; they watched the life leave Christ. Why would they continue on after having seen that? Because it was real. They had experienced a life that was real when they walked with Jesus.
I believe that our enemy wants to keep us, at all costs, from having those kinds of relationships because if we do, God will be freed up in our lives to move in ways that we can’t even begin to comprehend. I heard it said not long ago that if we will just do what the Bible says, God will begin to entrust us with more. While I have found nowhere in the Bible where it says, “Thou shalt have close relationships with those around you,” the implication is there. God chose a heathen by the name of Abraham to have fellowship with. What? Abraham a heathen? Yeah, take a close look in the book of Genesis and see for yourself. In Genesis 11, the people all came together to build a tower. God intervened and caused a language barrier to come upon the people and scattered the people over the face of the earth. Now, I may be wrong, but I’m not thinking that God did that because he was happy with what was going on. So, Abraham descended from one of the dispersed groups.
Then, in Genesis 12, God chose Abraham. Can you imagine that? The God of the entire creation coming and choosing one man! That is astounding to me. He didn’t need to, He wanted to. He desires close intimate fellowship with us. We are His creation and from the limited account in Genesis 3, God appears to make it a habit of coming into the garden and “Doing Life” with His creation. He wants us to have real life. Our enemy does not want us to have that real life, which is why we struggle with it so much. It is definitely why I struggle with it so much.
Maybe it’s just me, but this struggle confirms my belief in who God is. It seems like I always try and look at the why of the struggle. If some part of me wants to have close relationships and another part of me doesn’t, to me, that somehow bears out the Bible as being true. I know that sounds crazy. But put your mind into it a moment and ask yourself a few questions.
1. Why do I desire close relationships?
2. Why do I struggle with them when they are available to me?
I have never yet seen a baby that after a couple of months of life didn’t reach it’s tiny hands up to it’s mother and signal in a way that is impossible to miss that it wants to be held. That child wants to be near it’s mother or father. That child craves the attention, the affection, the closeness. Studies have shown that children that are neglected have major issues later in life (read more here: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm
). So, that makes me wonder why it is later in life we push back so hard and don’t want to have that closeness, that intimacy. Oh, but I don’t have that problem, I desire that closeness and intimacy, you might say. Really? Seriously? Have you been divorced? Have you had sex with someone outside of marriage or someone other than your spouse? Right there is proof that you don’t really mean that.
Now before you go jumping off the deep end, don’t think I’m condemning you for any of these things. Matter of fact, I’m divorced myself, so don’t think I don’t have a little bit of insight into this issue. If you think about it, the reason divorce takes place is because of sin. What? Yeah, sin! Divorce stems from sin because it is a lack of intimacy with God first and your spouse next. Seriously, strip it all away and you know I’m telling it like it really is. Maybe you didn’t want the divorce, but can you not see the lack of closeness that lead up to it. And sexual relationships before marriage and outside of marriage are just our attempt to find intimacy that will never be found outside of God.
So, to wrap this all up, our relationship and intimacy with God has to be solid before we can develop close, proper relationships with those around us. But, this kind of leads to circular logic because we don’t develop a closer relationship with God without developing closer relationships with those around us. Those around us help hold us accountable so that we can grow closer to God, which in turn, helps us grow closer to them. By choosing not to develop close intimate relationships with those of like faith, those we are supposed to “Do Life” with, we are basically snubbing our nose at God and telling Him we don’t want a relationship with Him.
Wow, sometimes I hate thinking out loud and putting fingers to keyboard because I just made myself accountable for what I have written. What about you, are you accountable for what you have read?