Saturday, July 30, 2011

Independence: (part 3) richness in relationship.

I heard a campus minister talk a couple of weeks ago about the primary indicators of a strong long-term relationship with Christ for young adults.  More than regular devotions or attending regular worship services, the topic indicator of a healthy, flourishing, and lasting relationship with Jesus for young adults was how many strong believers the individual was connected with.

St. Louis Zoo in the rain.  Some of my favorite people ever.

The last several days I've been staying at my best friends' home.  They recently moved from Minnesota and when given a very generous offer by a loving family (what an awesome act of being the Church--I am so grateful) to give me a ride down because they were making the trip, I jumped aboard.  It's been a week to remember.  My heart is full because of people whom I'm deeply known and loved by, people who encourage me in faith and ministry, people who can tell me the truth and be genuine, love me inspite of me, and have my best interest at heart.  This week has been so good for my soul.  I am drinking deeply.  I'm reminded once again, on such a deep level, how much our health depends on community.  I can demonstrate this in a few different areas.

The first, spiritually.  Just as I mentioned above, we need to be spurred on by one another.  It's so easy to come up with our own odd ideas about things or convince ourselves that something is okay even when it isn't.  Deitrich Bonhoeffer said in his book, Life Together, (a total must read about Christian community--my copy is at home, so this is a close paraphrase), said something like this: God has given us community to speak the Gospel to each other when telling ourselves isn't enough.  We need to be constantly reminded of truth because the enemy seeks to destroy with lies that we may not even be aware of, but others might see.  We need to encourage one another, speak truth and forgiveness to one another, and speak the Gospel to each other when we need to hear it from someone else.  This is why we are the Body.

My church has a slogan about our community that says "nobody walks alone."  Our pastor is clear to say "this is not a promise, but a challenge."  Living in community and surrendering independence is difficult.  Letting people see your junk and call you on it is tough.  Getting outside of yourself to walk alongside someone else will take time, energy, and giving of self.  It is not always easy, but it is rich.  This is how our lives our best lived: together.

I've seen how living life with others has helped me physically.  The chances that I'll eat healthier or exercise increase drastically when I have company.  I'm healthier mentally because I'm forced to get out of my own head of thoughts (which can be dangerous for anyone if too much time is spent there) and moved to think of and pray for others.  I find myself being more emotionally balanced because I can "get my words out" and learn compassion for others.  I learn to love and feel and allow people to see what is raw in me.  It's terrifying, but beautiful.  I have basked in that this past week.  Thank you, Lord.

The point of this isn't to say that you should always be with people or even grow to dependence on others, but don't be self-sufficient.  You can't do it alone and it's way better if you decide not to.  The thing about it is, Bonhoeffer also talked a lot about alone time.  He warned to be careful of being unable to have alone time and to those who loved alone time, to be wary of the inability to be together with others.  God doesn't want us to give up being alone, but not because He wants to encourage independence.  Time alone is creating utter dependence on Him and continually going to a place that reminds us we are nothing without His grace and His Word.  We are nothing without the reconciliation of Christ in our relationship with God.

There is such richness in relationship.  True relationship cannot exist in the presence of undying independence.  Lay it down.  As Jack Johnson would say: "it's better together."

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