Some Thoughts on Authentic Christian Fellowship
Being a person feeling a call to ministry and having the training as such, I find myself on a continual basis examining my faith, ministry, the church, and mission. A conversation being had on Facebook (curse you Facebook) got me thinking about what it means to be in meaningful Christian relationships and how it should look. So here is where I am on it…I think…well at least for now. For me there are four things that are a necessity when understanding Christian relationship within a 21st century American culture.
1. Relationships must be intentional. By intentional I mean that time should be and needs to be set aside to spend time with people. And this is REAL time…not hey lets catch a movie, or grab a cup of coffee (although between the two the coffee is the better idea) but intentionally setting aside time to spend with the other person in dialogue, prayer, and worship. For married couples this is your spouse…for singles these are your best friends. Some married people have time to have a second friend (let’s make these the same-sex you are…don’t want anyone caught up in anything scandalous) and that’s great…I unfortunately am not one of them. So for me my wife is my best friend and closest confident. Think of it like this…Jesus created relationships intentionally. He was out, about, and intentionally spending time with people.
2. Relationships should be geographically oriented. I know I know…this is a little old-fashioned but for Christian relationship that is authentic it is a necessity. Forming close bonds to those who live around/with you in your community is essential to a healthy Christian faith walk. Now this can be REALLY hard…especially with today’s “consumer church” mentality. Some people will drive 45 minutes to go to a Church that they “like”. So local communities of faith are rarely local anymore…and almost never give an accurate portrayal of the surrounding community. This obviously means that finding friends geographically can be really difficult. That in combination to moving around can make staying close with college friends or people that you used to live close to tough…those relationships will change and morph…or disappear all-together. Of course this is sad…especially if those relationships were deep and meaningful. But…change is a stream in which humanity is meant to exist within and something that we are remarkably good at (with some practice). We don’t like it…but we adapt in time and then that “change” becomes the mundane routine of everyday that we couldn’t imagine not doing. The point…if you are seeking an honest intentioned Christian relationship it must be geographical.
3. Abide in Christ. I know two old fashion concepts in a row but bear with me. In Psalms 46:10 God tells His people to, “be still and know that I am God.” This is something that we are remarkably poor at in our modern society. Our lives are so full of programing, events, and general stuff that being still is a virtual impossibility…or is it. Can we really not do all of the “stuff,” even if some of that “stuff” is Christian? My answer is yes…in fact God commands it! We are called to be still and know…whom (person) he is. At times we forget…God is a person too…and a relationship with Him counts in all of this. At times we are so eager to reach for other human beings thinking that it is our call to be in intended relationship when in the process…we drown God out. Even Jesus snuck away to go and pray…alone…being still…and knowing God is God…which is pretty amazing considering He is God.
4. Christian relationships should be unique. Most people are so caught up in a step by step process like this that they forget that people…are people. Each different…each unique…each implanted with a differing aspect of God’s image and creative genius. Instead of mourning the relationships lost…or ones that have changed more than you would have liked, celebrate the people God does have in your life right now. In the end…there really isn’t a lot to mourn over…considering if both people love Jesus they will have all of eternity to be in loving Christian relationship.
While on Earth, Jesus had intended relationships…that were geographically bound…allowing room to be with God alone…and allowing each relationship to be unique. These relationships that the incarnate Jesus manifested have created quite a legacy. Keep in mind, these relationships were done among human persons (Jesus was fully human), which says a lot about how much of an influence our relationships can have, pretty impactful stuff. So let us go out and do likewise. Praising God, sharing His love, and being intended in how we live our lives every minute of every day. What do you think about the points above…agree disagree, let’s start a dialogue. God Bless and thanks for reading!