Everything seems to be connected.
I saw recently on a nature documentary that part of the reason why the Amazon Jungle and Rainforest in South America is so lush and green and full of life is because winds pick up dust and dirt from the Sahara desert across the ocean and carry it through the lower atmosphere until, as it passes over the rainforest, it’s rained down on the earth, bringing a fertilization that’s unique and promotes vibrant growth. That same Amazon Jungle has been termed the ‘lungs of the planet’ because the trees there are said to produce around 20% of the oxygen produced by photosynthesis in the world. The debris of a desert is one of the secrets to life on the planet!
That’s just one example of how so much of life is related to each other. Even within our own bodies, all of our systems work together to produce life and health. If a part or system isn’t working properly, it throws everything off. Each part is related to all the rest.
Everything is connected!
And what is true of our ecosystems and our biological makeup is also true of the living organism known as the Church. As followers of Jesus, we are connected to each other, in relationship! We need each other. And so we should be doing all that we can to develop those relationships.
That’s another thing that’s at the core of who we are at Medina Naz. We’re all about investing in relationships. Philippians 2:1-4 in The Message Bible says this:
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
A lot of churches say that they want to be, “friendly.” In fact, most churches think they are very friendly. Whether they are or they’re not is a matter of debate, but it’s not one of our core values to be a friendly church. We don’t want to just be friendly – we want to be ‘deep-spirited friends.’ See the difference? Investing in relationships will lead to the development of deep-spirited friendships, which in turn result in a deeper relationship with God. We need each other! In the Church we encourage each other, support each other, and provide for each other’s needs. We are accountable to each other; we learn from each other; we grow in our relationship with God, together. And when you’re not engaged in relationship, you miss all of that!
One big way that we try to foster this investment in relationships at Medina Naz is that we don’t just gather in rows facing forward (like during the worship service). We want to always plan times for people to face each other & interact! We have classes and groups, not just to learn material or to get through a lesson, but to connect with people as we help each other connect with God. We can’t force relationships to happen, but we can provide environments where they are likely to grow.
And please know that relationships are two-way streets – so when you’re not there, you’re missed. We miss your input, your investment in our lives, your prayers… We are better together, and when other things in our lives take precedence over being with the Body of Christ, we all suffer for it.
Let me also say that our investment in relationships can’t only be focused inward, on developing relationships with people who are part of the church already. Jesus commissioned us to ‘Go and make disciples…’ He didn’t say, ‘Plan services, put up a sign, and hope that people come…’ We have to intentionally go and invest ourselves in relationship with people who don’t yet know Jesus.
A few verses later in Philippians 2 Paul emphasized that too…
Philippians 2:14-15 TM “Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night…”
Are you a breath of fresh air in your word? Are you giving your neighbors and coworkers a glimpse of good living and the living God? Are you carrying God’s light into this dark world? We have to do this! As followers of Jesus, we must be building relationships with people who are far from God, so they can know Him like we do.
Investing in relationships is at the core of who we are. I hope it’s at the core of who you are! Dive deep into relationship with people here at church for strength and support. And follow the Spirit’s leading in developing relationships with people who are far from God.