Unless you are an emotional and spiritual zombie, we all have moments that make us pause and contemplate life. I experienced one of those recently when a friend and fellow minister sent me a text stating that he had found his wife cheating on him – again.
In my experience, God usually prepares us for these moments. Just the morning before I learned the news, I was reflecting on how even though we are more connected than ever through technology, business and interest-centered organizations, the real us has perhaps never been more isolated and lonely. Even I must reluctantly admit, there are a lot of people who know me, but precious few who really KNOW me.
It is easy in today’s world to have shallow and superficial connections, but increasingly difficult to have the true intimacy that our souls desperately crave. Someone with a well-polished halo will probably be quick to insert here that we can only have that need met by God, but they would be wrong. Even before man fell in the Garden – while God was still walking in perfect communion with Adam – God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” You know the rest of the story, God made Eve out of Adam. God fulfilled Adam’s need for human intimacy though another human being.
I’ve lost count of the number of viral facebook posts that proudly proclaim, in one way or another, that the owner is purging their list of all the people who do not provide sufficient validation or live up to a certain set of unwritten standards. Of course the text is stated differently, but you can be sure that the passive-aggressive tone is there. Things people would never say directly to someone’s face, they will easily, and without hesitation, post for the world to see. “If you don’t meet my needs I will “unfriend” you and send out invitations to the rest of the world until I find someone who does.” They further distance themselves from others by making the post generic. Instead of speaking directly with the people they believe hurt or betrayed them, they send out a blanket message and convince themselves they did the right thing. When the offenders fail to respond – often because they didn’t see the post or are unaware that they are the ones being targeted – the poster feels justified in their actions. After-all, if the offenders cared, they certainly would have responded, right?
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is often supported by modern ministry teaching. Lines like, “cut ties with the people who are holding you back,” or “change the people around you if you want to change your future,” sound good and motivational, but ignores the Christian understanding of mature servant-hood. If Jesus had lived by those lines, He would have had to practice His ministry in isolation. No one was His equal, let alone His greater. Don’t get me wrong, I would never encourage someone to stay in an abusive situation, but that is not what I am talking about. I am referring to scripture,
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. – Romans 15:1-2 NIV
When I got up with my friend by phone, he told me, “I don’t have anyone else to talk to.” This broke my heart. He has been in ministry for years, has cared for untold thousands and yet at his lowest moment, he feels alone. Of all the people groups in the world, it should be the Church that gets relationships right. According to the Apostle Paul, we have been grafted into the vine which is Christ. His blood flows through all of us making us One Body. As my mentor Dr. Mark Chironna says it so well, “Baptismal water is thicker than blood.” In other words, even when we can’t get along with our natural family, we should be firmly connected with our spiritual one.
Unfortunately, we have allowed worship styles, minor doctrinal differences, politics, sin and a plethora of other issues to divide us. We then wonder why our message isn’t better received and our churches better attended. God forgive us! While we fight hard to save the country or the planet, our brothers and sisters often lie bleeding in the highways and byways. I know it’s not easy, and often every ounce of our being resists exposing ourselves to the vulnerability necessary to live the kind of life God calls us to. Then again, the Bible says the right road is the narrow one that most people avoid. God help us!
I would love to hear your ideas on how we can do better. If you need someone to pray for you or just someone to talk to, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org