I’ve thinking recently about relationships, especially the relationship within the church. You see, I am a new believer but a long-term church goer. I’ve gone to many different denominations and now attend a non-denominational church, so I want to highlight the differences I’ve seen and the relationships we should have in the church.
I am guilty of going to church to be a “good” Christian, chitchatting with acquaintances and skipping out the door to go back to “normal”. Most of the church sermons I heard made me feel good and happy; there were a few that brushed a nerve but none that really shed any negative light on my actions. These messages are good; We should know about God’s love for us, and how we’re saved by grace but it’s like you’re only dessert. It’s delicious but is best in moderation.
I’ve also been to church where all they preach is brimstone and hell and I leave terrified and with a list of things I better do or God will judge me and condemn me. Again, these messages can be good but again they shouldn’t be 100% of what you hear.
I attend a church now that focuses on scripture as the “theme” and we’re currently reading through Romans. The first few times I attended, this was a bit new to me because it seemed like a Bible study and I didn’t realize that a pastor could preach for 45 minutes on one verse. I was used to a more topical approach – anger, love, grace, etc.
I find that the approach my current church uses is very beneficial because it has more of a balance. We talk about the good but we also talk about the tough things too. There are days where I am bursting with love from the message and other days where I am squirming in the hot seat, knowing that God is using this message to grab my attention and redirect me.
Since I am a foreigner and most of my church is, we are all very close and see each other outside of church and our life groups. This adds an additional layer of accountability and sincerity that can sometimes be easy to fake back home. It’s easy to be “Super Christian” for a few hours Sunday and for life group but seeing these men and women constantly will reveal inconsistencies.
It’s against my nature to share my vulnerability and weaknesses but it’s in these moments I show God’s strength and see His love. This public (life group usually) confession shows that I’m not a hypocrite but that I am simply a sinner. My relationships within the church allow and encourage my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to approach me privately and hold me accountable to what I believe in and I am expected to do the same.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you an him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” – Matthew 18:15-16
It’s hard to hold people accountable or to be accountable if you’re not sincere. If we only share the good and never the bad, we’re hurting ourselves. God expected us to encourage and build each other up because He knew that we would experience low times.
The relationships in the church shouldn’t be insincere and fake but should be transparent and authentic. We need our leaders to set the example and to share their struggles as well their victories. While I might admire someone for their strengths, I am more likely to relate and respect someone for their weaknesses. It’s in our vulnerability that we become friends and truly form a bond. It is in our weaknesses that God’s strength is seen.
What do you think about church relationships? Do you think the church would be different if the leaders and members were more transparent with their struggles? What about the messages the church preach – do you think they should be more balanced or is there a reason to preach one over the other? I’d love to hear from you!