I thought of something today that I would normally take for granted and not really contemplate at all. I asked someone if there was anything I could do for them today. I haven't gotten a response yet, but I fully expect it to be a polite one. I expect to be told that all is fine and they can't really think of anything in particular that they need. What made me stop and think about it is the fact that I would be disappointed by a polite response. I truly want to do something to bless this person.
How often is that the case though? How often are we robbed of the blessing of blessing someone because we are conditioned to be polite? It's almost a knee-jerk reaction. I'm guilty of the same thing. When someone asks me how I am I say something polite without even thinking about it; "I'm good, how are you?", or at the very least, "I'm hangin' in there." Not only is that often a lie, but it brings the opportunity for meaningful interaction to a screeching halt. We all want to be needed, and we all want to be perceived as having it all together. Those two wants can't coexist. If we are all okay and have it all together, then we don't really need anyone else. God didn't create us that way. He created us for fellowship. “But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend; We who had sweet fellowship together Walked in the house of God in the throng.” -Psalms 55:13-14 NASB. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. . . . Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,” -Acts 2:42, 46 NASB. There are many other passages of Scripture that talk about the importance of fellowship. One other that comes to mind: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17 NASB We need each other for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that God created us to need each other. Even scientific studies have shown that those who are in meaningful relationships with other people live longer, healthier lives than those who isolate themselves.
We were created for relationship. Relationship with each other and relationship with God. It occurs to me that if you switch a couple of the first four letters of the word relationship around you have "real". I can't even look at the word without seeing that. Don't we need to be real in order to have depth in our relationships? When I'm not real with someone, it makes for a very shallow relationship. In fact, I would question whether I could even call it a relationship. Being the nerd that I am I did a bit of a word study on the word "relationship" and this is what I found:
re- = back, again
-lation > from latus "carried, borne" used as suppletive pp. of ferre "to bear" (irregular verb - fero, ferre, tuli, latus)
-ship: Old English -sciepe, Anglian -scip "state, condition of being,"
What I see there (with my limited knowledge) is a constant bearing of one another's state of being. We can't bear one another's state of being if we don't know one another's state of being. Therefore, there could be no relationship to one another, which would be completely unbiblical and contrary to God's plan for us. So, I would go so far as to say that by not being "real" with one another, by not being honest about how we really are doing, we are being unbiblical.
What to do about it? Therein lies the hard part. Go against the natural instinct to simply be polite, and go with the spiritual desire for fellowship. I'm going to ask The Spirit to remind me the next time a brother or sister in Christ asks me how I'm doing, to answer honestly. If I'm feeling challenged that day, I'm going to say so. If I'm feeling burdened, or sad, or even if I'm rejoicing over something in particular - I'm going to share that. I'm excited to see what happens. I know The Spirit will remind me if I ask Him. It will probably be a little scary, as stepping out of our comfort zone usually is, AND it is usually well worth it.
Praying for deeper, more real relationships in the church to the glory of God and the edification of His people.