“Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.” (Rom. 12:4-6)
Jesus was all about relatedness. He was primarily concerned about our relationships to the Father, to Himself, and to one another. He was not “into” things, status, success, money, competition, or any of the other main motivators of most people today. Moreover, he was into quality and committed relatedness.
How we relate to other beings reveals a lot about what kind of people we are.
As we know, this age is the age of disposable relationships. The unfortunate norm is, if a relationship becomes inconvenient, ignore it and it will go away. If one’s interests change, find others with like interests. So often, divorced persons discover that people who were great friends when they were married have quickly dropped them after the divorce. How can we be the body of Christ that way? Moreover, Christians who attend churches regularly often spend years in church environments which offer little or no chance to make good friends. Even relatedness in small groups is often topic-centered and people don’t really get to know one another on an individual basis. Even when they do, such relationships often remain relatively superficial and uncommitted. Really, Christians are “supposed to” belong to “the church group” and not to each other particularly, in too many settings. Loneliness in the Christian and in the secular worlds is epidemic! For the first time in my long Christian life I now have quality, committed fellowship, but it took SO LONG. (I’m pushing 72!). How can we be the body of Christ that way? Members of bodies work together, so they need to know each other. Working together for Christ demands a lot closer relationships than, for example, working on the same factory assembly line. But, most important to Jesus’ mandate for authentic love, members of the body
need to know and value one another just for themselves, and not merely to “use” one another to perform church tasks, like they use material objects. It is possible to be very impersonal, even when being very polite.
Due to a multitude of societal factors today, awareness of the need for long-term, quality, connected relationships is at a low ebb. I would venture to guess that a significant percentage of people have little or no idea why they should bother devoting time to such relationships. They don’t feel much or any need. After all, they have their computers and other machines! The longing and the need for authentic connectedness usually gets stuffed in the background, but it never really goes away. So many don’t seem to know how to develop and maintain the closeness to others we all need. Today, being independent is the “in” thing. Moreover, no one wants to be caught seeming “needy,” - especially men.
But, humans were created gregarious. We need others to be connected to and to be really close to. We need mutual nurturance, companionship, emotional security, light-heartedness, prayer partners, fun partners, and etc. and etc. In short, we need quality love and sharing. That’s why Jesus told us to love one another. He knows how He created us. He knows what we need. We all need those in our lives we can call “our own.” We need them to live our lives with. We need them to help us learn to be like Jesus. We need them to be bonded to, so we can have peace “in our guts.”
The current situation needs to be changed. Countless individuals seem to have little or no idea how to find, develop, and sustain really close, healthy friendships.
Where do we begin? So many social skills are involved – skills learned by blessed people as they grew up, and so now they can display them with great ease. Sorry to say, not near enough people are growing up learning such skills anymore. Most old-timers know the how, and they know the why, but we are losing that generation.
In this series, I am going to offer you, the best I can, some guidance in terms of how to get connected and stay connected. At whatever level you are now operating, I urge you to make your important relationships priorities for real nurturance and commitment. Quality love and togetherness make for healthy, happy people – people who are a credit to God’s Kingdom on earth.
Dr. Joyce of firstname.lastname@example.org