When we look at Scripture, we can see that Jesus continually spent time with people. It wasn’t Plan B for him, it was his whole mission. He had a desire to be with people and could often be found in small and large gatherings. Somewhere in our culture, we have lost site of the fact that God works best in and through relationships. We build programs and we create environments that are designed to ‘reach people’. However, we have become great at trying to reach people at arms length. We focus on the big picture without realizing that eternal differences are made one relationship at a time. We are often so busy in this culture that it becomes very difficult to carve out time to just love on people. And as a result, organizations are formed, but relationships are distant. We can’t expect to make a difference in our communities if we aren’t willing to spend time with people in real life, day-to-day environments.
I want to give you four reasons to invest time in cultivating personal relationships.
1. Ministry equals Relationships. Ministry is the ability to touch people at their needs. It is simply to discover what is taking place in the lives of people around us and meet them there. We can’t expect to meet the needs of people around us if we keep our distance from the people around us. When we love people where they are, that is ministry. When we demonstrate the love of God by valuing those who are hurt and broken, those who are searching for hope in this world, we can make an eternal difference. This happens best when we personally invest our lives in the lives of people. We must work side by side to make a difference for Christ.
2. Discipleship equals Relationships. We can impart knowledge in many different environments. However, the ability to share or gain knowledge is not discipleship. Discipleship is living life together in a way that we not only learn the truth of the Bible, but we also learn how to apply it to our lives on a daily basis. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. This simple principle teaches us that we are more likely to become who it is God has designed us to be as we spend time in Godly relationships. He uses other people in our lives to sharpen and shape us for His glory.
3. Life equals Relationships. Our culture is moving more and more toward a culture of isolation. We are actually moving away from intimacy and accountability with others and replacing it with a technology substitute. In this day and age of social media, we can feel like we are connected to people because we see what is taking place in their lives because of Facebook, Twitter and other media. We also can freely share happenings in our day through these avenues as well. The result is we feel as though we are connected to people without having any accountability for our actions daily. The questions we need to ask ourselves is “Who would we turn to if we really had a need?” Is there anyone in your life right now that you can turn to with life’s toughest questions? Is there anyone you’re close enough to (besides your spouse) that you would feel comfortable talking to about your struggles? The truth is that God created us to live life in a culture of relationships. Without these kinds of relationships, we are missing out on a big part of what life designed to be. We are missing out on the opportunity to experience him in greater ways. When we come to the end of our lives, we won’t want a bigger portfolio or to have climbed one more rung on the ladder of success, we will look back and view relationships as our biggest assets in life.
4. God loved us so much that He wanted a Relationship with us. God demonstrated that relationships are important by desiring a relationship with us. He became one of us, lived here on the earth in bodily form and did not sin. He went to the cross to pay the price for all of our sins and rose from the dead to create the opportunity for us to have a personal relationship with Him. That is powerful in itself. God loved us in spite of who we were, in spite of what we’ve done. He loved us not because of who we were, but because of who we could become. He simply asks that we believe in Him. He made the first step in coming to us in order to have a relationship with us. Let’s follow His example and make the first step in building relationships with those around us.
Relationships aren’t secondary in our lives, they should be a primary purpose of all that we do. The only thing in this world that is eternal is people. So let’s intentionally invest in eternity, by spending time with people. Let’s work hard at not seeing people for what they’ve done, but who they could become in Christ. Extend grace when possible and enjoy the opportunity to spend time with those he died to save. Make room in your schedule to have people in your home, in your activities, in your life. As you do this, you’ll begin to notice a change not only in your perspective of people, but of what it is God has for you to do while you’re here on this earth.