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The Discouragement of Superficial Relationships

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We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion--how can God's love be in that person? Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. -- 1John 3: 16-19 (NLT)


The Christian church is supposed to be different. It is supposed to be a model for the rest of the world to see and desire. That is actually the plan of God to draw people unto Him. He decided the vehicle was going to be His church and as long as His church obeyed His Word, people would see it and they would want it. People would come as the movie Field of Dreams once promised. Not to an Iowa baseball field but to small buildings with steeples on them -- all over the world. But they are not being drawn as much as they should. The number one reason given by people for not going to church today is that they view Christians as being hypocritical. That hypocrisy starts with our relationships. It starts with how we treat each other. How much we value each other. Remember how Jesus said people would be able to notice us:


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." -- John 13: 34-35 (NLT)


Can they tell us apart beloved? Or are our relationships as superficial as those we see in the world? Conditional and selfish? I think there are some major reasons we may not even be aware of that contribute to this. The first is we buy into the new age world systems of technology as bringing us "closer together." The devil loves Facebook. Not just because apparently Christians forget that everyone can see what they post but because it creates the illusion that we are more connected when in reality we are drifting further and further away. In this age we have Facebook, Twitter, Skype, texting, cell phones, multiple email accounts, Blackberry, Android - all to provide the illusion that we still exist in caring relationships. The truth is we have traded in love for efficiency. Caring for convenience. Friendship for expediency. The further we advance in social networking -the farther apart we truly are.


The relationships are watered down because they are not based in reality -- they are cyber reality. They do not require much from us in terms of maintenance. In the "old days" you had to actually buy a card for someone if it was their birthday or heaven forbid -- call them up! Maybe get together and have a piece of cake. Now all of that has been replaced with the magic of Facebook. You do not even have to remember anyone's birthday anymore! Just log on and the first thing Facebook offers you is the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to those who are having a birthday that given day. No more pesky requirements of interpersonal relationships such as conversation. Unnecessary! The cold harsh reality is found in the numbers. The average Facebook account has 400 "friends." On average we follow 150 people on Twitter and 150 people follow us. We have multiple email accounts with hundreds of people in our address book. Yet if you asked someone how many people they could count on besides family -- I mean to really be there for you -- most would venture less than five. If you were in the hospital -- how many people would visit you? If you were going through something and needed friends to be around -- how many would be there for you? If the answer is five and you have 400 friends on Facebook, what does that say for the nature of the relationships with the other 395 people? Listen, I love Facebook and modern technology but I would rather use it than have it use me. We have to realize that our lives are not reducible to a status update. People should not have to post lyrics as a way of saying they are hurting. There is nothing profound about posting a profound quote. It all cheapens who we are to each other.


Secondly, there is a tendency to act super-spiritual and wear church masks that impede the development of authentic relationships within the body of Christ. The often heard criticism is that Christians are notorious for burying their wounded. Church sometimes is the only place where you can come in wounded and be rebuked for bleeding on the carpet. If that is not enough, then often times the blame for the wound is foisted upon the wounded. How many of us have heard even from the pulpit that Christians should never be depressed! Never be anxious! Never be discouraged! I mean the Bible says that in His presence is fullness of joy so if you are depressed you must not be in His presence enough! The Bible says to be anxious for nothing so if you are feeling anxious you are just being disobedient! The Bible says to encourage yourself in the Lord so if you are feeling discouraged you just must not be walking in the Spirit! Hallelujah!


It is too easy to dismiss the problems of people with cookie-cutter Scriptural answers that make us feel as if we have done our spiritual duty when in fact we have avoided it. Our true spiritual duty is to be our brother's keeper. Our true spiritual duty is to love each other as Christ loved us. Our true spiritual duty is to carry each other's burdens:


Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. -- Galatians 6: 2-3 (NLT)


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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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