“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV
One primary ingredient that is missing in our Churches today is genuine personal interest and care for God’s people. The absence of authentic relationships makes it impossible to build solid bonds, which offer support and individual acknowledgement.
Our Churches are full of lonely and depressed people who are disconnected from any meaningful connections that can offer encouragement and genuine care. People need to know they are valued and individually acknowledged. They need to be reassured they are not just a number among many in the Church.
This lack of personal shepherding and individual care for the flock has left a hole in our hearts and a huge gap in our Churches. We have a multitude of programs and events, but very little genuine friendships that offer encouragement. Every believer needs and deserves a shepherd who cares. Every believer needs to have a place where he or she feels at home – a place of belonging – a family. Good preaching and teaching alone will not suffice – good programs cannot be substituted with individual attention. We need both.
Relate to one another
The very thing that holds people together in Church and keeps them together, regardless of what difficulties the Church may be going through is relationships. Genuine relationships that are held together by the love of God and loyalty to one another.
There are 59 “one another” statements in the New Testament. These exhortations in scripture encourage us to actually “do” something towards another person.
Let me quote a few:
“…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
“…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
“…Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
“Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
“…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
These are behaviours we may do out of an overflow of our relationship with Jesus, but they are not things that we do solely unto Jesus. Other people must be involved in order to fulfil them.
Invest in one another
In order to have authentic relationships, we need to invest in one another without any other motive, but the love of God. Relationships are the greatest investment we could ever make in our lives.
Building and maintaining such relationships require work and effort. They don’t just happen. I always say that relationships are like a garden. If you neglect your garden for a few weeks, if you don’t water your plants, cultivate the ground, take care of the weeds, it will become a jungle.
The same with relationships! We need to work at it, invest in them; invest time, prayer, care, and resources. We need to be gracious to each other. Give everyone the room and the space they need to be themselves. We must remove the pointing finger and the judgmental spirit from our midst and be merciful and gracious to each other.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am. ’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:9-11 NKJ
My prayer to the Lord is that He will bring us to the place where we are convicted of the way we do church and enable us to return to our Christian roots where Christians were known by the love they had for the Lord and each other, and not by their fancy buildings and great programs.