This post may be confronting for some people. Please know that at times we are all challenged, and just take your feelings to God.
The deep longing and desire for us to have a significant and meaningful relationship with God and each other is a major driver for our lives. This is a God-given call in our lives. When we have genuine connections with God and each other, there is real joy.
We then (sometimes) play at church; we sit in a pew looking at the back of someone’s head, sing a few songs, shake hands and say God bless you. But! How often do we walk with people through their troubles, how often do we get to heart issues and really carry each other?
Derek Prince stated that the central purpose of the local church (local ekklesia) is fellowship supported by these 4 points:
- 1 Corinthians 1:9 — We are called to the sharing together of Christ.
- 1 John 1:3 — The New Testament was written to bring us into the fellowship of the apostles, sharing with them the fellowship of the Father and the Son.
- 1 John 1:4 — This fellowship brings full joy (compare 2 John 12).
- John 3:6 — Out of this fellowship, the Holy Spirit brings to birth the purposes of God
(compare Acts 2:1; 13:1–4). Without fellowship, there can be no spiritual birth.
Local church is great! And a good worship service and a good preach is great value; but if we do not have real relationships, then it is just a game. If we don’t open our homes, wallets, and hearts, then we are missing the true purpose and connection between Christians. When we get it right, then there is purpose, life and joy. (Ref. Matthew 7)
Obviously, the level of relationship with people will vary — it can’t be the same for everybody, but if we don’t have some deep connections, we are in big trouble.
If all our Christian relationship is contained within formal meetings, then we are missing God’s love.
If we do not really know some of our brothers’ and sisters’ journeys, including the ugly bits, then we are not living as Jesus has called us to.
If we have no-one to share our journey with, including the ugly bits, then we are missing a fundamental foundation.
We need to have people to speak into our lives, people to share our lives with, and people we are speaking into. Over the last few years, Nel and I have had the privilege of spending time with some global leaders, including some from the Chinese underground church.
What made all of these leaders different was the very genuine heart relationship that was obvious and opened up for us. There were true fathers and mothers in the faith, and lived a reality that we in the West desperately need.
Above all, we need to have the foundation of our Father’s love underpinning all our relationships. We love because He first loved us.
So why don’t we have these sort of relationships? This is the pressing question of modern western local churches.
In a word, fear!
We fear rejection and emotional pain! It would seem we are scared to be open, because it means from time to time, we will be hurt.
We need to take a risk! And be open, and even allow for being hurt.
When we get hurt, we learn to forgive and heal. It is (in part) how we grow.
Not having pain means not growing. This is the price of maturity. When we take relational risks, we find that there are people we cane share life with, and our calling and purpose become manifest.
When we are hurt, we have a healer — the Holy Spirit Who carries us when needed; we also have good people that God has put into our lives to help in the healing process. But if we don’t have the right relationships, we are alone — which is so wrong. But in relationship, we have the life of God, and things really start happening.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.
~ John 4:18
Being alone is the worst situation we can be in; we have been designed to be in relationship. We need to build our relationship with the Lord and each other. This is not a chore, but fun!
Fellowship is not just church meetings, it is about just hanging out and being together. We need to make time for each other beyond formal meetings. It is the only way we can build meaningful relationships!
We have real relationships with several small groups, and in turn connect with the wider Church in this city and nation.
Once relationships get real, Papa God will enable a whole bunch of fantastic things to happen!
On to fathers and mothers in the faith
Being fathers and mothers in the faith is where we all need to get real. This is the natural outworking of relationships in the body of Christ. Without this relational base to our walk with the Lord, forget any aspirations to revival etc.
For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.
~ 1 Corinthians 4:8
I would rather have one real father than 10,000 teachers/instructors! We are privileged to have some genuine fathers in the faith. In our most difficult times and when we need, these fathers are there for us. Also, they celebrate our good times, and we theirs.
This blog is a call for fathers and mothers in the faith to rise and turn their hearts to their children. This is the imperative of the last verse of the Old Testament. Without the reconciliation of generations, reconciliation of intercessors and church leaders, reconciliation of First Nations in the land and so forth, we cannot really progress.
And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
~ Malachi 4:6
When the Lord’s reconciliation comes, and we pray, He will move in our land and the nations! Now is the time Malachi 4:6 is being fulfilled. The age of the Church, the Bride without spot or wrinkle, is here!
How do we make this happen?
It is very simple! We can start by spending regular time with other Christians: have a meal, or a tea/coffee, talk with each other, and even pray together. Just be real with each other. As Danny Silk said,
“If you minister to someone, they might feel loved.
If you love someone, they will be ministered to.”
In other words don’t try to be ‘spiritual’, just be a friend first. Everything else will flow from loving each other.