People are longing to rediscover true community. We have had enough of loneliness, independence, and competition - Jean Vanier (2)
However, isolation exits even in our explosive electronic communication age:
- We work alongside people we don’t enjoy.
- We live next door to others we don’t know.
- We gather in worship services feeling like another face in the crowd.
- We have no one to share our hurts.
- We learned in grade school how fickle relationships can be.
- As adults we experience the pain of gossip and betrayal.
- Church congregations are often worse on relationships than the world - filled with cliques.
- We help others but no one helps us.
- We end up holding everyone at arm’s length to keep from being hurt.
- We start to look out for number one (3)(4).
(This blog in PowerPoint format attached)
Healthy relationships are not created by sitting together in the same building or participating in the same activities. Healthy relationships are created by capturing Jesus’ heart for life-changing relationships. Jesus demonstrated that the simplest acts of love and friendship could reach the most hardened souls and transform them.
The Levels of Relationships:
Level One: Acquaintance
- This is when you know another person because of proximity.
- The conversation typically stays on safe topics (e.g. weather, work, economy, home repairs, lawn care, children’s performance, etc.) that have low emotional disclosure.
Level Two: Companionship
- Like the Three Musketeers who were a fraternity of men who trusted each other to do the task set before them.
- While they never had a discussion about their vulnerabilities or emotional struggles, they did have a great time going into battle together!
Level Three: Established Friendship (Brothers and Sisters in Christ)
- Established Friendships are relationships where the real you is known by another person.
- Not only does this person feel free to tell you everything, you also can tell everything to them.
The Lunch that Rocked Zacchaeus’s World
Jesus chose to have lunch in the home of someone considered despicable by the crowd - a tax collector! Zacchaeus was a man who spent his life looking out for himself. Jesus is the God/Man who spent His life on Earth looking out for His Father’s glory - doing His Father’s Work. Jesus’ selfless motives melted the heart of Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:1-10)
Despite our painful experiences we all continue to thirst for relationships. This is because we have been created for relationships (Genesis 2:18). Men and women have many acquaintances yet few real friends. We do not know how to make them, or enjoy them. We can only escape this trap by living the Jesus way - selflessly. Not trying to get love but rather give it!
Jesus did not spend His Earthly ministry talking about how to have church. Jesus spent His Earthly ministry living “Church”. He spent His time building intimate relationships with those He met. He turned the world upside down through God-centered friendships with believers and those still trapped in the world. His disciples did the same thing in the early church. They did not see themselves as an institution. They saw themselves as a Family. Church was not something they attended. Church was a way of living in relationships with the Father and His other children. The world marveled and was transformed by their selfless love.
The “One Another's of Scripture that will be explored in this series:
- Loving one another (John 13:34)
- Forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Accepting one another (Romans 15:7)
- Bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
- Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
- Honoring one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10)
- Greeting one another (2 Corinthians 13:12)
- Being hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
- Being kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Sharing with one another (Hebrews 13:16)
- Serving one another (Galatians 5:13)
- Carrying one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- Building up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Encouraging one another daily (Hebrews 3:13)
- Comforting one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
- Stimulating one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
- Instructing one another (Romans 15:14)
- Admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16)
- Praying for one another (James 5:16)
- Confessing your sins to one another (James 5:16)
- Being of the same mind toward one another (Romans 12:16)
- Submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
A Life Focused on Others
Other focused people take an interest in you just because they care. They are not tied to their own needs and desires in the relationship. Their care demands nothing in return and rejoices to see you blessed. They open their life like a book and let you read it freely. They do not hide their thoughts and feelings. They make you feel safe enough so you don’t have to pretend with them. They offer free counsel but never demand that you follow it. They give you the freedom to disagree and the flexibility to do things differently without compromising their love for you. They give you the shirt off their back without a thought when you are in need. However, they do not always give you what you want. They look past your faults and celebrate your promise and help you get there. When they say they will pray for you - they do. They are by your side in the darkest moments. Their presence more than their words comfort. Such friends find their origin in God’s heart. No one can love so freely whom God has not first loved deeply. Discover the power of His love and you will never be lonely again
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered….Love them anyway!
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives…. Be kind anyway!
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies…. Succeed anyway!
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow…. Be good anyway!
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable…. Be honest and frank anyway!
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight…. Build anyway!
People need help but may attack you if you try to help them…. Help them anyway!
In the final analysis, it is between you and God…. It was never between you and them anyway.
To be continued....
(1) Left click on underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Founder of L’Arche, an international ecumenical organization that creates communities with people that have learning disabilities.
(3) This blog adapted from Authentic Relationships: Discover the lost art of "One Anothering" by Wayne Jacobsen (http://www.lifestream.org) and Clay Jacobsen. ISBN-13: 978-0801064517