There is much going on in the Body of Christ today that is exciting but also ought to cause us to move in Christ with discernment and wisdom. I am excited by the brothers and sisters who are discovering new freedom in Christ and in more relational communities of faith, where relationship with Jesus and each other are pre-eminent and not the particular ministries or gifts that people operate in.
We are seeking redemptive, relational communities, and are seeking to be a resource to those seeking similar kinds of Christian community.
We were designed for intimate communion with our Creator, and Jesus made the way possible so that we could be restored to that relationship. Likewise we seek intimate community with other brothers and sisters in Christ. It is one thing to function as we once did in the traditional church with not really knowing too many people and certainly not knowing them apart from the weekly Christian activities we were a part of. We need to be in community, where we relate as extended family and friends, where each person is treated with respect and as a fellow brother or sister in Christ, no matter the age, or gender, or "gifting" or" ministry". Too often these things have distracted people from genuine community.
Recently, one experience I had really revealed just how much the system of traditional church is imbedded into our psyche. One man whom I counted as a brother, upon deciding to pursue Relational Commnity on his own remarked, "for the first time today I see you as my friend." I was a bit taken aback by those words. I had always cultivated a culture of friendship, and now after almost four years, it was the FIRST time he considered me his friend! Up until then I was viewed as an "elder" or "pastor" in his eyes, not what I had wanted either! I had fought that one for almost five years too! But this is how imbedded this is upon our personalities and our understanding of church community.
We have no problem understanding service, and doing the "work of the Lord", but we sure seem to be stuck in space somewhere when we are discussing being friends in community with one another. I think it is time to take a break from networking with people for the sake of working together, and time to start connecting in a genuine friendship basis, where authentic community can take place. It is when we express our love for one another and it is displayed in how we relate and express Christ in all circumstances, that the world sees what the "stuff" of Christianity is.
I yearn for relationships that are based on friendship, not on what someone can do for me, or on my position or influence in a given environment. I am not looking for pragmatic relationship. Too much of the business world has influenced how we view connecting and community. Most business people, and most ministries within traditional Christianity, view the idea of connecting, and community as a means to an end rather than process and journey.
If you are to become my friend, it would be based on common interest. Of that there is no doubt, and the greatest of these is our relationship to Christ and to one another. Friendships deepen due to personality and interests. If there are enough common denominators, the friendship will deepen and become stronger. At times we get together because of activities and through the activities we discover that we genuine like each other. I have found this both in sports leagues I have been a part of, business, and Christian events and ministries. That is perfectly normal.
Somewhere in all this, genuine friendship should prevail. I should not base my friendship on activities we do together, for when the activity is over, where is the friendship? It should be much deeper, where there is genuine love and affection for another person, and there is a desire to just hangout and be friends and enjoy life together in community. I love picnics, and I love all kinds of outings, but the reason I love them so much is because of the people I am with, are people I really care about. I have a genuine affection for them and I care about them. It isn't what they give me, or anything like that. I just like being with them. This to me is essential in a relational church community, but it is quite rare.
It is my prayer that many of you will go deeper into relationship with those whom the Lord has knit your hearts and lives together. I challenge not only you, but myself to more authentic community. If we were to ever "get real" in our gatherings, and in our times of play and recreation with each other... just imagine how attractive Christ would be, without you ever trying to use your "gift of evangelism"! He would simply show up in our genuine authentic relationships and in the activities that flow in those relationships.
Jesus said, "I do not call you servants, but friends." It is time we are the body of Christ, as brothers and sisters truly embraced what it means to be "friends with Jesus and one another."
-Author wishes to be anonymous
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