Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Importance of Relationships

I have recently been reminded of the vital importance of relationships, especially for those of us who are Christians. This is a topic that is very broad, so I am by no means going to cover it in its entirety. But, it is something that is at the heart of what we are trying to do here in Nicaragua. Since I can't give all the specifics of various "real" relationships here, I want to put out some points about relationships in general:

1. Everyone needs to be reconciled to God. All of humanity has been separated from God by sin (thanks to Adam and Eve). However, since we were created to be in relationship with God, Jesus died on the cross to get rid of the sin problem. Now, the only thing "between" us and God is Jesus, so to get to God we just have to go through Jesus. (If we "know" the Son, we "know" the Father; see John 14:6-7.)

2. It is our job as Christians to help reconcile others to God. (I have to credit my friend Kim for explaining this point so well in her blog post.) Now that we have discovered the way to God (through Jesus), it is our responsibility to help others find their way so that their relationships with God will be what they were created to be.

3. We need to be reconciled to each other. This point is so important that Jesus himself prayed about it in John 17:20-23 (emphasis added):

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

4. All of us who are "in Christ" make up the Body of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 12:27.) One reason we all need to be unified is that we are supposed to function as a single unit. However, being unified doesn't mean that we are all uniform. Each of us is a different part of the body, and it is expected (and necessary) that we will be, well, different from each other. When we are working as "one," though, we are a force to be reckoned with. God makes a big statement about what we can do as humans after the Tower of Babel incident (Genesis 11:6): "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

5. We need each other in person-to-person relationships as well. The model of individuals joining together to form a single organism works on a smaller scale too. Not only were were created to be in relationship with God, but we were created to be in relationship with each other. Forming the bigger organism of the Body of Christ starts with our individual relationships. We can do more with each other than we can separately (see Ecclesiastes 4:12), and there is something special about what Jesus says in this verse (Matthew 18:20): "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

6. It is through personal relationships that we can effectively minister to people. When Jesus was physically on the earth, so much of his ministry was person-to-person. He healed people individually, speaking directly with them and many times physically touching them. We have many examples of him having personal conversations with various people, and always he was drawing them to himself. (With crowds he had the tendency to drive them away, but with individuals he made real connections.)

7. How we treat each other is of utmost importantance. Everything we are supposed to do is summed up in the word love, as we see in Matthew 22:37-40:

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Not only do we need love for ourselves, but it is through our love that we show Christ to the world (see John 13:35). (This goes back to us being the Body of Christ.)

8. Because we are not perfect, our relationships are not going to be perfect. However, where we really see love come into play is when there is an offense given and the victim chooses to respond with forgiveness. This, more than anything, shows God's love to the world.
. . . . .

Again, this list is not comprehensive, but the main point that I am trying to make is that we need each other. When the 1st century church met every single day, I think they really got it (not that we have to do exactly that, but the principle is still true). We need each other collectively (as the Body of Christ), in smaller groups (our congregations, our "small groups," our groups of friends, etc.), and one-on-one. We need others, and others need us.

What other thoughts about relationships have I missed? What are ways that we can try to be more unified as the Body of Christ and on a smaller scale?



  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Becky. (And I admit, I clicked on the link, thinking, "When did I say that?" I remembered the thought, just not the context.)

    I especially love your point that unified does not mean uniform. Preach on!:) Personally, I know I was very relieved when I realized that simple truth.

    And I would love to gather together daily with fellow believers. I think the early church was right on with that practice, and I know that I could use the encouragement from daily interaction with Christ's body!

  2. Working (and especially, for now, living) at the mission, I am the closest I have ever been to "meeting with the believers" daily. As frustrated as I am not to have my house yet (yes, I do want more privacy, but mainly I want to be able to have my local friends come over), I do see my fellow Christians here pretty much every day... and I like it! Every weekday morning (before starting to work) everyone who works at the mission comes together for a short devotional. After that, Tommy, Chris, David, and I meet to touch base about whatever we need to do that day, and we always pray together before we all split. During the day, on days when I have work on the computer to do, I might be lonely because my computer is set up in my bedroom away from everybody. However, if I want to see someone, all I have to do is walk around and find someone to chat with while they are working. (This is AWESOME Spanish practice, by the way! And, it helps to build relationships with the people, which, like I said, it quite important.) Days when I am not doing computer work, I am off doing something else where there are people (at the maternity house or somewhere, or, if nothing else, several times per week I have Spanish class with my teacher who has become one of my best friends). Even if I didn't see anyone during the day, the congregation here meets on Sunday (AM and PM), Tuesday PM, and Thursday PM, and on Saturdays the ladies class meets at 4PM, with the youth group class following at 5:30. Thursday nights, however, our Hope for Life group has our own English devotional (and on Sundays we have Bible class together before going to church "service" with everybody).

    I say all of that to say that it really does make a difference having so much (and such frequent) contact with these people. I hate that the typical North American lifestyle is geared for exactly the opposite (well, people might see other people, but there is no guarantee that the people they see will be, um, encouraging). The downside is that I think I have gotten somewhat, well, "addicted" to love. (I can't believe I just said that, but in this context it is true.) I get so many warm fuzzies all the time that when I don't get them, I start to get sad. (Thankfully, Facebook is always there to connect me with people! I'm kidding, sort of, though, honestly, "The Internet" has made being away from our friends and family so much easier. And, of course, Kim, being able to talk to you through our blogs has been an enormous encouragement to me, for real.) Anyway, if you can ever talk anyone into actually meeting daily, you should do it. :)

    Oh, and there is SO MUCH I wish I could say about the unified vs. uniform point, but I'm still struggling with what is and isn't appropriate to post publicly (hence the long delay in posts on this blog).

  3. Becky, that community sounds amazing! I know that it's not perfect and that, apart from your mission team, there is a language barrier...but still, I do love the idea of daily, morning devos. I would love that. Courtney and I did a James Bible study together for awhile, discussing our readings through email. It was great (and our only option, being two states apart), but flesh and blood meetings are so great.

    I'm glad that you have that, even though I'm sure it has its challenges as well.