The following article was written by Jason Dickey of Tampa, FL.
Over the last two weeks these articles have emphasized how the reading of scripture and prayer can aid in our efforts to attain the goal of heaven. What I am trying to help everyone understand is that there are things to do, effort to be made, choices that breed action that help us accomplish the goal for which we all seek. Christianity is far from a passive religion that simply gives directives of what we need to avoid. It is a religion of doing, of being, of defining. So then, this morning I want us to turn our attention to one more action that we can take in this effort: the building of Christian relationships.
As Bible students and thoughtful educated people we tend towards the academic study of scripture; the defining of theology and doctrine. These are good things that help us define what we believe and what that implies in what we do; so don’t misunderstand me when I say that the Bible is not a book of theology, it is a book of relationships. Yes, the Bible is jammed full of theology, it is peaked with doctrine, and it is most certainly a vessel for rules to live by, but if you spend very much time reading it you will come to see that those ideas, although very prescient, are contained within a story of a God trying to have a relationship with His people; a people bound to each other through this God; a people lost but sought by the saved. The Bible is a book of relationships.
Read through the Gospels and ask yourself what it is that Jesus did. He healed the sick, He ate with the rejected, He taught the disenfranchised and in all He interacted with everyone He could whether believers or not. The ministry of Jesus was about the people of Israel and paving the way for its spread beyond those borders. In Luke 4 at the very beginning of His ministry He stands up in the synagogue of Nazareth and reads Isaiah 61: “…He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Jesus was sent to reach out to people, to affect them for good, to show them the good news, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord in which they all would once again have a hope of unity with God. Jesus came because of people.
If then this is the reason for Jesus’ arrival on earth then what does this teach us? As people we get mad at each other, we annoy each other, we disagree and fight, we simply don’t care for each other sometimes. This is fine I guess, but don’t allow these differences or uncomfortability prevent you from having relationships with one another. In Christ we have a unity with God and with each other. This unity is of eternal necessity and possesses the promise of a new kind of hope. As we do good, we need to do good towards one another; do good towards the world. We need to build each other up to love and good works and in this demonstrate the love of God. If you want to be a part of the kingdom of God it is of fundamental necessity to grow with each other.
This idea of relationships then combined with our introductory thoughts about doing now frames a clear picture of the sort of people we need to be. I understand that sometimes we are shy and it is uncomfortable to meet new people. This idea is not a command for everyone to suddenly develop outgoing personalities, but it is an urging to take advantage of those around about you. To discuss sermons and Bible classes, to share problems and ask for prayers, to read scripture together and to do good for others together. We need to be a people that loves one another and pushes one another to do more good. Do not be deceived, evil companions corrupt good morals. Do not be deceived, righteous relationships build you up to love and good works. Strive then to build these godly relationships.