Relationship. Have you ever really noticed that Jesus was all about relationship? The very fact that He came to be Emmanuel (meaning “God with us”) reveals His intent. He was relational, even to the point of being born as a screaming, wrinkled newborn laid in a manger just to be with us.
The Bible tells us that the boy Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). Even as a child, Jesus was about relationship with others. Later, as an adult, His ministry was focused on being with people, teaching them and healing them. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record many stories of Jesus spending time with people in their own homes… developing relationships with them. He set the perfect example of being a person willing to invest time in building relationships with people; rather, than offering a “quick fix” and walking away, never to look back.
If the Bible is our standard of living, and if we read about Jesus’ emphasis on relationship, why, then, is it so difficult for mainstream American Christians to develop relationships with the lost and the hurting? Why is it so difficult for me? Have I bought into the lie that if I meet people where they are, I will be “enabling” them to continue in their broken lifestyle? Have I deemed my life “better” than their life? Do I actually believe that I am better than they are? Do I look at their life, and think that they have brought their problems upon themselves? Do I act as if I can “fix” their problem if they would just get out of the way and let me do it? Am I looking for a “quick fix” so that I can spend my time on something more “meaningful”?
I hate to admit that I have been able to answer a resounding YES to all of those questions in the not-so-distant past. I have stood on my self-righteous pedestal thinking that I was so much better than others. I seriously believed that God needed to use me to save people from themselves. I lived as if I was doing Him a great favor by being willing to do it (oooohhh….that is almost to ugly to admit out loud!). In His great grace, He has humbled me and He continues to remind me that only Jesus came to be perfect and to save. He is God, I am not. I need others to sharpen me as much or more than I need to sharpen others (Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”).
My dearest confident, Julie, has set an incredible example for me to follow. Julie is a relational person. She is willing to give of herself and of her time in order to develop a relationship and hence, to earn someone’s trust. She walks alongside a person in a mentor role, all the while, pointing them to Jesus. It is life-style evangelism at it’s greatest and it is incredibly effective! Julie came alongside me in a mentor role and pointed me to Jesus as God used her to teach me how to value relationship with others.
I am so thankful for Julie’s impact in my life. I pray that I won’t return to my self-inflated platform of judgmental thoughts and pride. I don’t want to live there anymore. I have had a taste of being relational and I love it because as I am walking alongside someone else, that means they are walking beside me. As I mentor them, they mentor me. They are building in my life just as much, or even more so, than I am building into theirs. I am changing because of their impact into my life.
This is the beauty of relationship and I have a lot of changing that I need to do.