Community Is Worth It!
In a casual read of Genesis 1, there is a phrase that sticks out, “And God saw that it was good.” But in Genesis 2:18, we see that God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” So He sent Adam on a Divine Quest.
You may be wondering what is a Divine Quest? It is when God sends us on a quest to discover truth. Sure He already knows the answer, but we need to discover it for our selves.
So, God parades all the animals before Adam. He allows Adam to name them all. But after seeing all the animals with their mates, Adam did not find one for himself (see Genesis 2:20). Thus, God creates Eve.
We are created for relationships!
Not only did God create us for a relationship with Him but for relationships with one another. Jesus said we can sum up the entire Bible in two commands: Love God and Love Others. Relationships not religious activity.
I recently heard Jim Putman (Real Life Ministries) give the following definition of a mature follower of Jesus: “someone who loves God and others well and is loved by God and others.”
Spiritual maturity is measured by relationships!
We are not measured by how much we know, or how much we have done, but by how well we love.
I have always struggled with one of the stories Jesus told until I began to understand the priority of relationships. The story is about the Shrewd Manager. The man finds out he is going to get fired, so he goes to all his bosses debtors and gives them each a huge discount. Then when he is fired, he has favor with all of them (see Luke 16). Jesus didn’t celebrate the man’s dishonesty, but he did celebrate the man’s use of earthly assets to develop relationships.
We see this in the first two chapters of Esther. King Xerxes throws a 180 day party and follows it up with a week long banquet. At the same time Queen Vashti invites the ladies to a banquet. Drunk and impressed with himself, the king, demands that Vashti get all dolled up and come and be eye candy for all the nobles. She refuses to be treated as a possession and does not come. This infuriates Xerxes and his nobles. How dare she? Not only was the king refused, but what happens when all the other wives find out. They will follow Vashti and stand up for themselves. Ultimately, Vashti is stripped of her crown. When Xerxes sobers up, he realizes what he as done and he misses Vashti. He advisors once again come up with a plan. They propose a pageant to find a new queen.
Now Esther was a beautiful orphan girl who was being raised by her cousin, Mordecai. Her real name was Hadassah. She was a Jewish girl who had been carried into exile by the previous king. When the officials took Esther into the palace to be part of the pageant, Mordecai told her to keep her heritage a secret because there was prejudice against the Jews.
Esther had two things going for her: 1). God was working behind the scenes and 2). She had great people skills. She found favor with the man in charge of the virgins in the pageant. She found favor with everyone else involved. And finally, she found favor with Xerxes and became queen.
There are three principles that stand out to me from this story:
- Power hungry people fear others who lead from integrity. Vashti took a stand and was destroyed for fear she would lead a women’s movement taking away male domination.
- Relational skills can win favor with others. Not withstanding the work of God behind her, Esther’s relational skills gave her favor with everyone from servants to the king.
- Wise counsel is vital for major decisions. Esther listened to her cousin and the king’s eunuch and it allowed her to make wise decisions.
The truth is there is evil out there. There will be opposition to those who live out the principles of the Kingdom of God. However, if it is true, and I believe that it is, that spirituality really is measured in relationships, then my life is completely bound up in how I relate to others.
At my son’s college graduation, the student speaker, Nashana Jackson, spoke about the crazy behavior of students to stay up late after their student led worship and yet be at their early morning class the next day. She said the reason, they had determined that “COMMUNITY IS WORTH IT!”
We were created for relationships. Spirituality is measured by them. They are the proving ground of our faith.
Let me ask you a question, Do are you in a small group where you experience authentic relationships and accountable grace? If not, why not?