Our second session at Relationship Camp, is all about relationships with other people. Nothing that I am about to say here is revolutionary; I would imagine that you already know all of this at some level of consciousness, but we don’t always think about these things.
Consider your friends. You know them, meaning that you know things about them such as what they like to talk about, what they like to do, what they do for fun and what they do for a living. You know which ones are light-hearted and fun by nature, and which are more serious. You know if there is some subject they are really touchy about and you probably avoid it. You are also aware which ones are really sharp mentally, and which ones are not quite as quick…
How do you know these things about your friends?
Isn’t it the case that you know these things about your friends because you’ve spent time, maybe years, in getting to know them? As you get to know a person better, you will develop a sense of trust with that person, if they have shown themselves to be worthy of trust, right? When you have a level of trust in your relationship with that person, you develop a sort of influence with them, which is to say that you can influence them and they can influence you to a certain degree, and in special cases, there may be such a level of trust and influence that you would trust them with your very life. This is someone you can totally depend upon. Such a friend is worth his or her weight in gold, don’t you think?
Now, let’s take a step back from our thumbnail sketch of what a friend is, and look at what we already know that we can apply to serving our Lord. We already know what kind of relationship will result in trust and influence, but if we want to lead someone to Christ, we need to pick out and understand the parts that will enable us to “lead.”
Suppose we are introduced to someone, and we smile, look them in the eye, shake their hand ad say, “It’s nice to meet you Bob, even though you are a filthy rotten sinner, destined for the eternal fires of Hell. Sit down so I can tell you about Jesus Christ.” How do you think the conversation is going to go? Did you make a good first impression? Did you establish any sort of trust with that person?
In order for anyone to lead others, they must have one of two things with those they wish to lead. They must either have power over them so they can force them to do what they want, or they must have a sufficient level of relationship with the other person so that the person will trust. God has more than enough power and authority to force the entire human race to bow down before Him and worship, but He has not chosen to exercise His power and authority in this way. Instead, He has entrusted you and I with the Good News of His grace that He freely offers to anyone who will choose to accept it, and He has charged you and I with taking that Good News to the world around us. This means that we must establish relationships based upon godly love, respect and trust with those around us just as Jesus did. Only when there is trust and mutual respect will other people be receptive to the Good News we have to share. If they do not see the love we share at work in our lives, our message will ring very hollow indeed. More often than not, when we fall short in this area it has something to do with a lack of humility, to be nice about it.
Relationships with other Christians
Making disciples does not end with a person’s acceptance of Jesus Christ, for that is not the end of the process, it’s the beginning, and we can’t simply leave the brand new Christian all alone to struggle and despair by themselves… as so often is the case. This whole aspect of relationship is every bit as crucial in helping young believers (of any age) as they move forward toward spiritual maturity. Love, trust and mutual respect are critical factors in mentoring one another, and we need to be just as intentional in building these relationships, as our Lord was when He demonstrated for us how it is done.
For me personally, this is the most exciting part of my life, when I see a younger Christian begin to grow spiritually. The nature of their questions begin to change, you can usually tell by their questions just where they are on the journey. Then their attitudes about various things begin to change, and then their behavior begins to change, until one day I see the person serving selflessly, often in a manner that I didn’t expect, but for which God has given them gifts of service. Yep, for me there is no greater satisfaction and joy in life; it is life to the full!
OK, this is rather longer than I like in one post. I realize that, once again, I have spoken in very general terms, but bear in mind that his road trip is not intended to be technical or academic, but rather a journey of ideas and discovery. Tomorrow, back at base camp, we’ll have our closing rally, see you there!