Something that has been heavy on my heart lately is the struggle to develop relationships, to keep relationships and to heal broken relationships. Maybe the battle of the ages in the Church has always been our relationships with one another. Perhaps it is because that is what the world longs for most or maybe it is because the enemy is so jealous of our relationship with Jesus and with each other. The trust of knowing someone intimately is something he will never taste again so he strives to divide us.
The cry of our generation is for real, loving, caring, worth-dying-for relationships. When a group of young leaders were recently asked whether they would rather lead independently or as a team, overwhelmingly 95 percent said they would rather work together in a team leadership. Why is that? For me it isn’t about having a position or being recognized, but it is about the relationships with others in the team and the process of wrestling together with God to see His purposes revealed. It is about putting together a puzzle where everyone has a piece to add making a mosaic of beauty that only God could produce. By myself I could never see produced what I see happen through a team of like-minded leaders. The excitement of pursuing a direction together, the joy of seeing God’s hand move because of a unity and common purpose is the most fulfilling thing I can do. God loves relationships; Jesus would never have done what He did without His friends. He lived and died because of them and He rested the destiny of the human race on those same relationships. God the father gave Jesus friends. Don’t you think He finds value in them?
In the same breath, the enemy seeks to destroy the very relationships God seeks to produce. He uses our own sins to break them down. Pride of position, jealousy, envy, strife, those things that we call “our rights” all keep us from getting close to each other. Sometimes even Jesus and the word of God are used to justify breaking relationship or to shield us from others. Maybe someone has a different view or doctrine on the Bible that doesn’t line up with ours. Maybe they are from a different Christian background than ours. Don’t you think the world and the enemy stands back and laughs at us. Jesus spoke against the Pharisees’ accusation that He was of the devil saying, “How can a Kingdom divided against itself stand?”
Doesn’t that describe us as the Church sometimes? In any relationship, there must be risk, the risk of putting your heart out there and being exposed. It is a risky business, this issue of relationship, and it is one that cannot be resolved out of a position or title. Relationships are God-given, but they take work. My most valuable and treasured possessions are my relationships. They are more valuable than gold and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. The friendships God has given me are friendships that will last an eternity. I believe the relationships that we have to fight for here on earth are the ones that will be key in eternity. Anything of value takes work and often the closest relationships I have have taken a lot of work and humility to keep. What is it worth to you?
I recently saw the last installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King. In the story, Tolkien focused the destiny of the world on the fellowship of the ring. A group of people from different cultures, countries and even races gathered together for one purpose, to save middle earth from the one who would destroy all life. Doesn’t this sound like the battle we are in? If you have seen the movie or read the book, you know that the good guys win. But how did they win? They accomplished the task because they trusted, trusted beyond a hope and laid down even their very lives to see the goal accomplished. But in the end, it wasn’t because of the task, it was because of the friendship that they would sacrifice so much.
Jesus put the trust of the godhead in His friends, He rested the destiny of the entire world in those same friends and He contends daily for relationship with us whom He calls friends. How much do you think friendship and relationship with others was worth to Jesus? He rested the future of the Kingdom of God—your future—on these relationships and He still does it today. The Kingdom of God is advanced through relationship, one person at a time. Now I ask, of how much value are your friends to you?