In a previous blog I spoke of the balance that Jesus had in his life, growing relationships with his Father, with his disciples, and with the hurting world around him.
This blog seeks to be very practical, exploring how we can grow these 3 different types of relationships.
Everything starts with God, and our relationship with him. We have access to the Father through the Son, entered into by repentance and faith. Having gained access our relationship is meant to grow.
This growing relationship with God should impacts every part of our lives. As a teenager I liked the idea of having a girlfriend, however when I got one it started to impact other parts of my life. She wanted to talk to me at lunch times when I wanted to do other things. The relationship didn’t last long. When met and married Anne, I happily allowed the relationship to influence all of my life. This should be even more so with God. He is Lord of everything.
It is vitally importance that we intentionally grow in our relationship with him. All different, no standard means, however unless we work at it, it will not happen. Find a way that works for you.
Regular time – a little every day, every week rather than binging.
I spend time with God most mornings – I read scripture; journal – go through previous day with God, what happened, what did I learn; read devotional book; pray. Listen. It can take from 30 to 45 minutes.
I also run most days – some of them with others, mostly alone. Whilst running I listen to podcasts, often sermons and I chew things over with God.
I have privilege of being released to do this, hence I can give longer to building my relationship with God than most people.
I know of people who use their commute to pray, listen to worship music, sermons, listen to or read Bible. My wife listens to a daily Bible reading podcast on her commute.
Some recommend setting aside 15 minutes to be alone with God and the Bible every day.
Tune into God at other times – seek to hear from him. Ask his blessing. Join with others in prayer. On journeys, pray in tongues for extended periods, doesn’t work well on train journeys!
Importance of Psalms, especially if struggling. Gives words to our anguish, questioning.
Everything starts with God, but moves into relationships with other believers.
Unique to Christianity is the trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God himself is community, relationships, and family.
We are made in the image of God, hence relational. He puts us into families. Despite what some people may say, we are not meant to be sustained by our relationship with God alone.
Loneliness is epidemic in our society – people can even be lonely in a relationship, in a family. We have to model something different.
Here are a few thoughts to helps us.
Recognise the different levels of community.
Jesus had relationships with the crowd, 72, 12 and with the 3. There are different emphasis and character in different types of relationships that can easily be misunderstood. This can cause problems.
Relationships are formed by joint experiences; they deepen over time. You cannot rush relationships.
There is richness from learning from people from different backgrounds and different experiences. However, it is harder than relationships with people the same as you.
Iron sharpens iron. We must deal with conflict positively.
Questions to help and challenge you.
What relationships are you building, developing with fellow Christians? How much time are you investing in the crowd, 72, 12 ,3?
Take the initiative. Be active rather than passive. Invest time.
With God we should decide how much time to invest daily. With relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ it should be weekly.
Also involves relationships beyond fellow believers.
Witness in Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria to the very ends of the earth. Acts 1v8
Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Jeremiah 29v7
It involves personal witness to Jesus –giving a reason of the faith we hold. But also modelling Godly character, doing good work, ministering in grace and love, moulding culture, speaking truth and justice.
Most of us are doing it, we can’t help it. It is about whether we are aware of it or not.
With relationships with those who are not believers it is about recognising the importance of being focused, purposeful.
In conclusion, we should allocate time daily for our relationship with God; allocate time weekly for relationships to build Christian community; most of us have plenty of time with those outside the church – it is about how we utilise that time.
Written by Tony Thompson
Tony Thompson is the leader of Hope Church Luton. He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.