The greatest wealth of my life is my network of friends and family!  Those who with whom I ‘do life’ give texture, joy, and support to my days. Being part of teams – at church, at work – multiplies the results of my efforts. I offer what I am able to give as do those with whom I share the effort and, together, we find greater return for our effort.  The Church is plagued by a tragedy imported from our culture of independence, many choosing to turn their spiritual experience into a ‘Jesus and Me’ thing, a life apart from the richness of the community of faith. 

And yet, “There is no such thing as an independent Christian. Imagine if the US declared that we were going to send one soldier to war. One soldier! Even with the best equipment in the world, how can one little soldier survive? Nobody goes into battle alone. Sanctification–growing in Christ–is always both personal and communal. We need one another. Our faith struggles and our successes are part of the Body of Christ, not possessed by our own little kingdom. This Christian Life is war. Who in their right mind would go to war without an army?” — Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert

David, the king of Israel who rose from a country shepherd boy to the throne, had a group of counselors that the Bible refers to as “David’s mighty men.” Isn’t that rich? These men believed in him and served alongside of him in the campaigns he waged for Israel’s safety. Who would he have been, what would he have accomplished without these people? Only God knows. He was not a ‘self-made’ man even though he was gifted, with deep faith and great courage.  He needed people who helped him achieve his greatness!  The first generation of Christians were a connected lot, too.  Jesus called not one, but Twelve. The apostles traveled in teams – Paul and Barnabas, Peter and Mark.

Building and maintaining connection requires effort and intentionality.  
Effective teams do not just happen. They are the result of shared mission, good communication, and priority commitment. I serve with a team of people at our church’s food pantry, good friends, and hard workers who put in many hours of labor to feed those with need.  They do not just show up when it’s convenient or go home when they are tired. Our shared work is a bright spot in my week, a time to see friends and to know the joy of meeting the needs of others.  

How connected are you? 
What kind of priority do you assign to your teams?

Christians need to be part of a church, not just when they feel like it, not just when all the ‘right’ things are happening in the building, but as an act of obedience to God’s direction.  The Scripture tells us to keep meeting together to “encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV)   Corinthians teaches us that we share our spiritual gifts, finding joy in doing what God enables us to do.  Paul tells us “If your gift is to encourage others, do it!… And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans 12:8, NLT) Too many Christians in this day choose to be only loosely affiliated with a local church. As a result they are less than they might be and the Church is weakened.

Will others always bring a blessing into your life? Of course not. People are fallible, sometimes selfish, and even sinful!  The Church, as has been said so many times, is not a museum for the display of the sainted, it is a place of healing for those who are broken. So, we accept others just as we hope they will accept us – imperfect, yet growing.  In your connections there is a choice to be made.  You can focus on those who miss your expectations or you can find a way to encourage. A bitter cynic sucks the life out of every situation and relationship. A loving encourager blesses and finds a blessing

Get connected. Make it a priority. Be blessed and a blessing! 

Here is a word from the Word.  But let us who live in the light think clearly, protected by the body armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God decided to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. He died for us so that we can live with him forever, whether we are dead or alive at the time of his return. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)



Packing up the dreams God planted

In the fertile soil of you

Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted

Means a chapter in your life is through

But we’ll keep you close as always

It won’t even seem you’ve gone

‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways

Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever

If the Lord’s the Lord of them

And a friend will not say never

‘Cause the welcome will not end

Though it’s hard to let you go

In the Father’s hands we know

That a lifetime’s not too long

To live as friends

With the faith and love God’s given

Springing from the hope we know

We will pray the joy you’ll live in

Is the strength that now you show

No a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends

Deborah D. Smith | Michael W. Smith

© 1982 Meadowgreen Music Company (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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