Connecting with "others"

This past weekend we took our first trip back home from the coast and had a chance to visit with friends and family that we haven't seen in a few weeks since our move. So far we have been very happy with our new surroundings and are adjusting very well to beach life, thank you. That being said, even though we have met some pretty awesome people so far, we still are seeking to make many more important connections with others in our community.

Being back in worship with those who have walked beside of us the past few years was nothing short of refreshing, even it has only been a few weeks since we last saw them. These are the people who we have built community and real relationships with, those who have shared life with us and have allowed us in turn to invest in them. Just being back with them for a short period of time reminded me of a very important truth.

We need to connect with others. 

Words like "community" and "connect" have become common catch phrases today and they may seem a bit worn out, yet that's exactly what I believe we must be striving for in our everyday lives. In the context of the church, this has never been more important. Perhaps the biggest turn off for people in our culture is a lack of authenticity, whether it's in the arena of politics, the workplace, or the church. Most people can simply ignore politics and many can grit their teeth while at work, but the church strikes a deeper cord with many in our society.

If you were to ask the average person who does not attend church why they don't, more than likely at the top of the list you will here the phrase, "Everybody in church is a hypocrite. I don't want to be around phony people." Without trying to defend or defuse those kinds of comments, there is a perception inherent within them that those who claim to be followers of Christ are lacking in the area of genuineness and it's rubbing those outside the church the wrong way. Right or wrong, that's what they see.

So what is it that causes those outside the church to perceive the body of Christ in such a way? Perhaps it's the reluctance many believers have of engaging those outside of their church circles in real, meaningful relationships. The first sorts of connections that we must make are with our brothers and sisters in the greater body of Christ. We need each other and we must feed our internal hunger for fellowship. From this flows accountability and rich, spiritual growth. In terms of connecting with each other in a tight Christian community, most believers have this down to a science.

But beyond that we must also seek to make real relational connections with those around us who are not believers or who have shown little interest in the church. Truthfully, the local church has made it very difficult for many to make this a priority. Check out any church calendar and you will find most days and evenings filled with events or meetings that, if the average church goer took full advantage of, would place them on the church grounds for about half of his lifespan. In turn, believers have become very busy people, leaving little time for others outside of their Christian circles.

How many friends do you have outside of your church? Do you know more about your neighbor than just where he/she works and how many kids they have? Do your coworkers know enough about you that they would feel comfortable approaching you for advice on a tough issue? It might be time for you to free up your calendar from all of the "church stuff" that is consuming your time.

We are connected within the body of Christ because the gospel has drawn us together. We must strive to connect with those outside of the body of Christ so that we can share with them this same gospel that alone can set them free.

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