Thursday, August 22, 2013

Because Our Friendships Should Go Deep

How many church events do we have to go to realize that in too many ways those gatherings are no different than a Super Bowl party? The conversation, the activity, the way people relate to each other is not a reflection of Christian community, it is just folks hanging out.  Sure, we all know we are Christians and we love Jesus, but we rarely talk about the impact the Gospel has had on our lives.  We talk about dirty diapers (not my preferred topic). We talk about movies and football teams.  We talk about vacations.   This is what we do.  We spend the precious time we have together talking about stuff.  We don't go deep, but why?

Jenn and Linda encourage me in the Gospel almost daily as we raise our children together. Paula told me I need to get off my bottom and write a blog.  God has used them to bring joy, peace, and blessing to me. I love this picture of our baby bumps (Linda's was so big he popped out).

I think there are lots of reasons
  • Gospel conversations are tough because they feel vulnerable. It is just easier to keep people on the outskirts. If I deeply engage it will reveal my heart, the beautiful Christ redeemed heart and the ugly sin struggling heart. I have both and they live in tension, I only want folks to see the pretty side. 
  • We don't want to be offensive.  I grew up with the adage to not talk about religion or politics.   Jesus is always my favourite subject of conversation but how do you talk about him without bringing offence?  
  • We don't want to be that person who is a Bible thumper (do they still use that term? Yes, I am 40)
  • We don't spend time in God's word and so it is not really on the tip of our minds in the first place.
 I believe that Jesus wants us to have friendships within the body of Christ that reflect the depth of intimacy that He has with the Father.  It is time to give it a try, to let go of our fear of being known and being challenged out of complacency and to trust God with our hearts. It is time to trust the church.

It is time to jump into Gospel Friendships
This summer I spent quite a bit of time with Zack at the pool. Everyday on the way he would tell me he doesn't want to roll over, and I would make him.  He is not swimming if he can't breathe and the only way to breathe is to take your face out of the water. He is 4, the best way to get his face out of the water is to roll on his back. I would make him practice his technique for 10 minutes every day.  After a while I noticed that he was doing it on his own. He would be in his own little world of swimming and I would see him gracefully roll over to breathe. He was scared to do it, but with practice and consistency he learned that it was a great way to breathe.

I think we should look at this business of gospel friendships in the same way Zack got accustomed to doing something he feared. We took 10 minutes and set it apart and said it was for practice.  We need to take time with our sisters in Christ and set  it apart and call it holy.  Summit Crossing leadership is beginning a new strategy within our Missional Communities that they are calling DNA groups. It is a small (2-4) group of folks who will meet in a time that is holy, to have gospel conversation.  It will be a safe place in which to practice sharing the deeper, tougher issues, and to celebrate the great blessing of the Gospel.  I need a DNA group because in setting the small community apart as Holy Unto the Lord, I have the freedom to share and to listen in a Holy Spirit led conversation.   Perhaps with practice, we will find that even in friendships outside of DNA group we are having gospel conversations.  It reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!
6-9 Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
We need to rehearse the Gospel. We need to remind each other of the work God is doing.  I know that the more I share what God is doing the more the truth of His work sinks deeper into my heart. I begin to believe that He is good when I recite His goodness.  I begin to remember His faithfulness when I share with others what He is doing. I also find greater freedom from struggles when I let them out of the dark places and bring them into the light. It is a win, win.  In sharing both struggle and joy I find myself in a deeper intimacy with God and His bride.  Friends, let's take this challenge and take time with a small group of trusted friends. Make that time holy.  Set it apart for God.  

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