13. Levels of Church Relationships

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Relationships created and formed by the love of God and established and maintained in the unity of the Spirit, are the pillars of the Church the Lord is building today. As the Lord continuous to shake everything that can be shaken in the 21st century, we are coming to realize that nothing but love will remain. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. The last statement is a really important one in the Bible the chief hallmark of discipleship is agape love. It is the most important trait by which a true disciple is known. If we don’t have that, all we build is literally being built on sand.

As organizations based on doctrines tumble, and relationships based on agendas or the almighty dollar crash, we are coming to understand how serious God is about all this. Nothing but the love of God will stand at the very end.

Many today chase worthwhile causes such as city unity, prayer for the nations, justice, peace, and revival in America hoping that the enormity of the task would somehow rally us together. Our temporal and shallow relationships have not been able to sustain the task over time. As soon as the initial fanfare associated with a project goes away, the fizz is gone like an open Coke can in the blazing sun, and with it, all energy for the cause. Our efforts will be sustained as far as our relationships can take them no further.

Another detour to true Christian relationships is the so-called ‘quest for Christ’ in our meetings. We care about you sharing as long as you don’t get real and personal, as long as the conversation is about mystical, ideal, and spiritual things. Let’s talk out the ‘deep things of Christ,’ but please don’t bring our relational reality with one another, or the poor or why we don’t demonstrate His love on a daily basis for each other. I call it mini-Church because it’s the same institutional system but in a smaller context. Proof it isn’t Christ, is that the next time they will probably talk to each other, will be the next time they schedule a meeting.  The meeting is the bond, not love in fraternity.

Recently the worldly ‘coaching’ sensation has entered Christian life. We will help coach you to success they say. It’s nothing but glorified Christian counseling for a fee.  First, Christianity is about fruitfulness not success. Second, real fruitfulness costs to the point of sacrifice.

‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 

Take away the money and you will see how quickly the so-called coaching goes away too. Coaching is fine for engaging with the world. The scriptures speak of discipleship through familial relationships: fathers/mothers, brothers, sisters. Family lays down its life for its members. Coaches leave when the money stops flowing.

While we are on the subject of detours how about the popular house of prayer movement. People come to worship God and pray together for hours in a building without forming any real deep relationships. It’s all about getting in His presence. Well, how can you be in the Presence of Christ for so many hours and not have the nature of Christ afterwards for your brother. If you really rest your head on the bosom of the Lord you can’t help but leave with His heartbeat for a hurting world. No sacrifice here.  Being devoted to prayer can be a hiding place for those who cannot face the hard word of building lasting relationships.

Fixating on the manifestation of supernatural signs and wonders is also another enticing distraction. Supernatural works are the result of faith, and faith works by love. To emphasize and teach spiritual techniques to ‘release the supernatural’, is a carnal shortcut that attempts to bypass the costly requirement of love in relationship. Where love abounds, supernatural power follows as easy as falling off a log-when we don’t care who gets the credit and whose résumé and ministry is built through the manifestation of power.  We do not need to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars going to ‘schools of the Holy Spirit’, to learn techniques of the supernatural. The Spirit of the Lord is producing sons and daughters, not technicians who view others as test objects for their great prowess in the spirit.   If we are missing supernatural manifestations in our midst, it is a love failure, not a power shortage. 

It has been said that the greatest enemy of God’s best is the good we can do today. The enemy loves to keep the church focused on the minors (causes) so they don’t concentrate on the major (love) that in the long run produce those things we all want.

Again, I don’t want to stereotype here, and yes there are delightful exceptions in every system.  However, the facts are, the majority of Christians are living in a self-centered delusion of their own making, chasing leaders who will prophesy what their itching ears want to hear.

I know. I was there. For years I would have argued with you that the basis for all we did was love, but that simply was not true. I pastored for 16 years in the religious system until 2003 but people still come up to me all the time and ask me if I remember them. Depending on the relationship level we had at the time, sometimes I do. Weak relationships do not naturally remain where they were last. Since love is not the foundational principle behind many relationships, they take a giant nose dive when the pastor member function of the religious system no longer exists.

I want to provide a relationship chart with the hopes that the Holy Spirit would help you make an honest inventory of your present relationships. It will come as no surprise that the word friendship has tumbled to an all-time low and really doesn’t mean much in this day and age.


Continues tomorrow

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