One of the buzz words of our day is the word “sustainable”. “Sustainable communities”, “Sustainable living”, “Sustainable environments”….
I am in the business of relationships and people, so I wanted to touch on a topic that I call “Sustainable relationships”.
Billy Graham’s wife Ruth used to say that “a good marriage is made up of two forgivers”. I like that because it gives us an option.
It gives us the option to not “bail” on the people in our lives. Yes, some relationships and some people are toxic and we should have the right to release them out of our lives .
As 1 John 2:19 states; “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
I like what Dave Blunt is quoted as saying; “If you continue to do right things, eventually what’s wrong and whose wrong will eventually leave your life.”
But conversely I see an infirmity in our culture of what I call a lack of sustainable relationships …. A disease so rampant that keeps people, good people from staying in community together.
The old prophet in Amos 3:3 ask the question I am asking in 2014? “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
Jesus, as well as my camping propane stove have a few things to say about how to “hang in there” with people through out your life.
I like how Ashely Denton speaks to this issue. “Consider how an propane stove teaches something about abiding in Christ. If you think about it, a stove apart from it’s fuel source no longer functions according to it’s purpose.
One halmark of Jesus Christ’s lifestyle before his crucifixion and resurrection was the way he invited his disciples into close association with him. He chose a few to invest in. He knew that the best way to form a following of loyal disciples was to live with them in close-knit community. His actions show us that his mission was multiplication, and this would only happen if his disciples could learn to abide in the Father as he related to the Heavenly Father.
Jesus’ Disciples lived with him, learned how to serve, watched how to worship, perceived the proper posture for prayer, and developed a pattern of persistent proclamation of the Gospel by remaining close to him. They developed a habit of resilience to run their race by observing how Jesus ran his race passionately to the cross.
HOW JESUS CONDUCTED HIS RELATIONSHIPS
The Greek word for abide is: μείνατε (meinate). It is a word you would use to describe the palatable closeness you could observe between two really good friends. This abiding is exactly what we see when we read the eye-witness accounts of how Jesus conducted his life with the disciples in the Gospels.
BELONGING TO CHRIST…AS WELL AS THOSE HE LOVES
Here are a few other passages to help us grasp the meaning and importance of abiding in Christ:
but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. (John 10:38)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24)
The opposite of abiding is to fade or disconnect from relationship. How easy it is in our walk with God to fade away, to chase the next shiny distraction. Yet in leaving the path of shoulder-to-shoulder closeness with Christ, we miss out on the good stuff of friendship with him.”
DISCOVERY CHURCH APPLICATIONS?
Ministry in the outdoors has a special way of using time in the outside the walls of the church building to expose where we have drifted away from the path with Jesus. Jesus knew this would be a temptation, so he retreated with his disciples quite often because he felt the need to be alone with them:
“Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. “(John 11:54)
We all need to get alone with Jesus for some one-on-one time. In solitude we are shown again the incomparable joys of close relationship with God, and we are confronted by our frequent disloyalty to him. When we take the time to look at our tendency to drift away from the path will we begin to experience the fresh breeze of grace that comes through repentance.
Take some time to examine your relationships.
Spend some time in repentance for any ways you have faded away or avoided closeness with Jesus because of sin or laziness, etc.
To quote a friend of mine; “if a person disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean they hate you.” – Shawn Miller
Are your relationships with family and friends as close as you desire? Why or why not?
How might your relationships with friends, family, etc. be transformed by attending to your relationship with God?
Do you desire the close kind of relationship with Christ that the disciples had with Jesus? What is stopping you from stepping into this depth of closeness of Jesus? What is holding you back?
Loving God, Connecting People, Discovering Christ.