I once heard it said that the difference between the relationships you choose and the ones you make at church is, the ones we choose are the ones that make us the most comfortable.
That couldn’t be more true for me personally. I like who I like and if I don’t like you I’m good. It’s very sad and honestly something I still struggle with even in doing life with the Body of Christ (church family). However, I cannot deny that the relationships I have allowed God to mold around me since coming to the faith have been extremely influential. Even the relationships that made me extremely uncomfortable. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. Relationships can be a reflection of yourself.
Whether it’s now or later you will meet someone that you share a lot of like qualities with. Some of those people you meet will share qualities with you that you don’t like about yourself. You will know who they are when you examine how critical you are of them. In my walk, in different seasons, I have met people that share some of my most annoying and frustrating attributes, such as, my tongue of fire. In my first ministry job, I met someone who was just as harsh and brash as me when it came to giving feedback. This was a real eye opening moment because I had just left a job where I was running the show, literally, a local news show. I was always so critical of my anchors after shows to the point where I never said anything good about what they did even when the show went great. My harsh tongue was really discouraging and I was supposed to be the light of Christ. So when I got to my next job the Lord gave me a taste of my own medicine. I was working with a young lady who was also new to the job, she had no clue about what I do or the circumstances of which I was doing it in. I was new to my position and didn’t know anything about planning a conference; I produced the news. Day by day I was learning, but it is difficult to work with someone who is learning when your job is to produce results. So in a meeting I was having with her she flat out asked me if I was stupid. In so many words, in her mind I should have just been making decisions, but honestly that is not how my manager was allowing me to work. She didn’t know that my manager wanted to have a say before I could just approve things, so she didn’t understand why I was so unprepared when it came to requesting items I needed from her team. All of this happened in front of another co-worker, and being that I worked at a ministry I had so much to consider. Do I retaliate with my tongue? Do I defend myself by throwing blame? I just kept silent and walked away in tears. I had gotten hit with my own venom and it hurt. I wish I could say that it has completely changed the way I speak to people at all times. It has not, but it has, however, made it easier for me to accept when someone confronts me on how my words made them feel. That acceptance makes it easier for me to apologize and consider more carefully how I phrase things in the future.
2. Relationships help you see a reflection of the world around you.
Now let’s take a step outside of church. Have you heard about what’s going on with Kanye? Or, Beyoncé’s Coachella performance? Have you watched the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy? I’m not advocating for any of these things or even suggesting it is important you know about them, however I do suggest it is important you know people who do. The world around us is vastly changing and some may argue it’s not anything we haven’t seen before, but I say it is something that the Church in this age needs to be aware of. You can’t live under a rock and think you will effectively be able to advance the Kingdom. You won’t be working with a full deck of cards. It’s not that the Word of God doesn’t have answers for today’s issues it’s that too many Christians are so far removed. We make the mistake of being so focused on the symptoms that we completely overlook the root cause or the influences. Knowing people that talk, act and think different than you helps you to broaden your perspective. A wider perspective helps increase your compassion and helps you to always be ready to give an answer for what you believe (Scripture Reference). Being in relationship with people does not mean you have to do what they do or find yourself somewhere you shouldn’t be. It does mean that you care for them, that you show an interest for the affairs of their lives and you look to share in life with them in ways that you are comfortable and that still honor God. Most of all it means that you love them and that they know you do!
3. Last, but not least. Relationships are a reflection of Christ.
This is the pinnacle truth of faith building relationships. It’s all in how you love people and how they love you, or don’t. This reflection of our Lord and Savior is most easily spotted in the relationships closest to you. I recently became a Mother (Whoa, that’s weird to say) and it is such a joy. Immediately after giving birth to my son I became overwhelmed, obsessed even, with the need to protect him. I just kept thinking about all the bad things that happened to me from childhood to now and I just couldn’t figure out how I would possibly be able to protect him from it all. The thoughts plagued me because I loved my son and I did not want to see him hurt. So one day I called my Mom and I shared with her my feelings and I asked her did she also love me that much. She said of course, but that is still not nearly as much as God. What? God loves me more than this. More than I love my son, when I can’t even imagine loving anyone more than I love him. Can you guys believe that? The creator of the universe, our God, the Holy Trinity, loves each and everyone one of us more than we can even imagine. His love is unchanging and never failing. He wants to protect us from all the pain and the hurt in the world, so much so that he sent a Savior to die for us and redeem us. He gave us his word to guide us and give us wisdom to avoid things that will lead us away from Him. He gave us himself to be our counselor and convict us when we are turning the wrong way. This is just one relationship, one glimpse of Christ. It would be way too much to write about them all, but what I will end with is that this is the MOST important role relationships play in our life. How we love, live and forgive all hinges on our Christ likeness and we are made more like Christ by the sharpening and shaping we receive from the people around us. All people.
So here are 3 things you can do to make sure you are allowing your relationships to build your faith:
1. Look for Christ in your everyday relationships.
2. Ask yourself how you can be made more like him through those relationships.
3. Pray God use every relationship to get the job done.
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