It is discouraging to see the lack of ability in almost all areas of life in being able to work together. There are many ills in our work today, but this has to be one of the most important. It is definitely one of the most important desires of Jesus for His followers.
I am writing about the new commandment that God has given us, His followers. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John 13:34–35 It is interesting that He does not mention better preaching, better music (worship), better offering, better building, better websites, better social media presence. But he does mention the importance of better relationships. It you have not figured it out yet, relationships are vital in just about every endeavor of life. They are a factor in marriages, families, work environment, churches and even government. And yet our relationships often go neglected and we all reap the consequences.
I was reminded of two essentials for building strong relationships, time and humility. I am sure that we could extend the list, but let’s touch on these two. Relationships require time, and I would add personal interaction time. The best is face to face engagement. The gospel narrative makes this overlooked point by simply stating, “On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida.” (Luke 9:10) What is so obvious that we miss it, is that Jesus spent time with people. There a many examples, like the woman at the well and even “the teacher” of Israel, Nicodemus. We often take for granted the three years that He spent with His disciples. Why is face to face time together so important for relationships? It allows two different people to grow together. The sad truth is that like the situation in Luke 9:10, the disciples were overloaded with life’s responsibilities, there was no margin for relationships. So Jesus, knowing this and also dealing with the murder of John the Baptist, takes his team away to spend face to face time together.
A second essential for building a strong relationship is humility. We refer to a lack of humility as pride. Pride destroys relationships. My study in 1 Corinthians reminds us of two areas that need humility. We read, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10) I just want to emphasize the two last phrases, The first “united in the same mind” speaks of being on the same page. This requires time together but also humility. Like-mindedness requires compromise in the non-essentials to promote harmony. Take a moment to stop and think about all the stupid non-essential stuff that you are fighting with others over. Humility is the ability to see the big picture and to put others first. And the second phrase “the same judgment” refers to keeping your opinions in check. It could be said that opinions are like noses, everybody has one. Forcing your opinions (or call them preferences) on others is one of the best ways to destroy relationships.
The real mark of Biblical Christianity, that distinguishes us from the culture, is our relationship. How are your relationships doing?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson