December 28, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Getting Close)

Submitted by Henry C. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Which of the following areas have I grown in this year? What are the circumstances or what acts of obedience led to growth in this area?

  • Doing life together in all its ups and downs
  • Having open homes and open lives
  • Relating to each other in love, commitment and honesty
  • Creating and sharing memorable moments

In our society, what you often see is that one is accepted to the extent that they are adding value. In many places, it is even more merciless because not only does the person need to be making a positive contribution, they need to be worth more than the cost of keeping them in their position. If there is someone could replace that person and do a better job, then that person will likely be gone at the next opportunity. This happens all the time, both in the workplace as well as in peoples’ personal relationships.

Thankfully, the church does not operate this way. The church was never supposed to be an organization made up of interchangeable, expendable human resources. Instead, we are “one body in Christ (Romans 12:5).”  We are each a member of one body and therefore members of one another. It’s not possible to switch out one part of your body for a different one just because it is underperforming. The only reason that anyone would ever amputate a part of his body would be if it were cancerous. But short of that, people learn to live with what they have. If one part is weak, then the other parts work to compensate. Of course ideally, the weak part would be rehabilitated and eventually be able to do what it was created to do so that the other parts of the body can do what they were created to do. But in short, giving up on or cutting off a member of the body is just not an option.

This past year has been one of the toughest years in my walk with God. It’s been a year of taking time off my typical ministry schedule to really rebuild my relationship with God. Throughout this time, I’ve often felt guilty that I was not serving at the same capacity as others around me. I felt insecure because I wondered whether others should just give up on me and focus their energies on other people who could yield more “return on their investment.”

Throughout this time, I found hope to know that Christ actually commands us to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).” It assured me that I’m not banking on my merit or even on others’ big heartedness, but I am banking on the fact that God commands the members of the body of Christ to stay committed to one another.

It is through being in this position that I have come to more deeply appreciate that we really are a church committed to doing life together through all its ups and downs. My leaders did not give up on me, but continued to minister to me and guide me back to God’s heart. Others in the ministry took on the responsibilities that I had so that I could focus on my relationship with God. My peers continued to be committed to me, prayed for me, and encouraged me through timely conversations. In the end, I was able to get closer in many of my relationships as I saw how unconditionally committed they were to me.

In which of the above areas do I want to experience growth in this coming year?

In order to get close, we have to relate to each other in love, commitment and honesty. As I get older and my life gets more complicated, there are different barriers that I have to overcome in order to relate in this way. As my life gets busier, I am tempted to operate out of a desire to go through my checklist of tasks as opposed to focus on genuinely connecting with the people whom God has placed before me to love. As my obligations and responsibilities grow, I am tempted to feel overwhelmed and excuse myself from committing my time and energy to others’ needs as they present themselves. Finally, as I am now one of the older ones in the ministry, there is the temptation to keep up the perception that I have it all together instead of being completely honest with where I am at.

The trend in society is that guys my age slowly become more and more isolated and lose their close relationships, no doubt partly due to the factors above. I pray that I can fight against each of these things that destroy relationships, and instead to relate to the people God has placed in my life with love, commitment, and honesty.

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