The Gospel & Building Relationships
One of the challenges in our Western culture is that the more affluent an individual becomes, the more strings we attach to the priority relationships. Surely, we see this in other cultures; but it is quite evident here. For example, we tend to become more segregated with bigger houses, lands and more costly venues. How would the gospel call us to build relationships?
Starting with the truth
The truth is that God extended beyond any barriers that exist in order to reach mankind. There was no social comparison. Jesus is God, yet He became man. There was no economic comparison. Jesus was rich, yet He became poor. The coming of Christ is unimaginable. This was not Jesus just leaving an upper middle class subdivision and moving into the middle of the Bronx.
Looking in the mirror
We don’t have a hard time looking in the mirror, but we have a hard time seeing what is actually there. Now, I am not taking about seeing things physically. What I mean is that we often presuppose that Jesus came to us because there was something desirable in us. The truth is that if we will look within the mirror of God’s word, the sad reality is confirmed. We are horrible, rebellious sinners. We are thieves who have robbed God of what was rightfully his: glory.
This last statement cannot be taken as lightly as we tend to take it. We would like to think that we are less sinful than some of the people we refuse to associate with in our lives, but that is simply not true. Don’t just look into the mirror, but please take time to see what is there.
What you have received
So, let’s get this straight. We’ve received love and salvation that bridged socioeconomic boundaries. We’ve received love and salvation that was irrespective of the fact that we did not deserve it. We’ve received love and salvation that was not initiated by us. Rather, this love and salvation was all initiated by the Lord.
Having received this kind of love and salvation, we have been secured by the very presence and power of God. He is called the Holy Spirit. Having received God himself, we are now called to and enabled to live and form gospel relationships.
- A person does not have to dress like you, in order for you to get up, go across the room, and start a conversation.
- A person does not have to have children in order for you to find common ground to build upon in conversation.
- A person does not have to merit your kindness in order for you to relate to to them.
- A person does not have to have kids in the same school system in order for them to be worthy of your notice.
- A person does not have to have the same marital status as you do in order for the to warrant your greeting.
Relating to people in a gospel manner does not require an extrovert, though an extrovert may find it easier to reach out. Relating to people in a gospel manner does not require socioeconomic equality, though this may give people more to talk about when they meet.
Relating to people in a gospel manner begins with understanding how God in Christ has related to you. Relating to people in the gospel manner requires that you be continually overwhelmed by God’s kindness towards you to such a degree that you desire to live this out towards others. Our failure is not a personality failure or a socioeconomic failure. If there is a failure it is that we have not given ourselves to a deeper more full understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As you have been received, go and do likewise.