2020 October news letter article
Hello Church Family!
I am actually writing this newsletter article from vacation! I took a week towards the end of September for a wedding in Virginia of some of my closest friends from college! I lived in a house with eight other guys and they are some of the greatest influences and encouragements in my life. As I got to spend a week with them, hearing how God was growing them and at work in their life, it burden my heart to write this month’s article on relationships! For many of us, this time of social distancing and stay-at-home has been particularly stressful, crazy, or frustrating because of how disrupting it was for our relationships. The close friends we see regularly likely was interrupted; casual friendships that were growing possibly may have fallen by the wayside. Maybe we used phones and technology to stay in touch but it cannot replace the impact of being able to spend time in the presence of friends and loved ones! To whatever degree this change has been felt in your life, I wanted to pause for a moment and address how fundamentally difficult this can be! As humans, created in the image of God, we were made for community and relationship! The chief relationship we were made for of course is our relationship with God, but when God made Adam He said “It is not good for man to be alone!” and certainly that truth holds still unto today! That is why so many of us are hungry to return to gathering together physically, not just across screens. That’s also why so many of us are hesitant because certainly that gathering poses risks to those who we deeply care about! So as deeply relational beings, how do we navigate a culture that is actively discouraging and limiting moments and opportunities for relationships?
As Christians I think we have the most fundamental hope: our relationships are united in nothing less than the Spirit and Glory of God. In fact, people should be able to tell the uniqueness of Christian bonds by the profound love we have for one another that could only come from God Himself! But what does that mean for us? That doesn’t eliminate the reality that we are gathering in limited capacities, wearing masks, and maybe even abstaining for social events all together! The journey to take the knowledge in our head of how Christians have relationships to our heart and why that is significant rests on how we pursue relationships. I’ll end this article with some insight into how we could incorporate this into different developmental stages but for that to be effective for our children this must be something we have internalized ourselves. The way we invest in our relationships is going to communicate the condition of our heart and what we actually believe about how we relate to other people. For example, I am constantly convicted and humbled about how easily I can find a connection with someone over superficial interests: tv shows, books, hobbies, etc., but it can take so much time for me to find a spiritual connection or investment with them! Of course we would all say, our relationship with God is more important than football and movies but living this out requires discipline and practice. It means forgoing the easy superficial “hey how are you?” and asking questions of more substance: “what has God been doing in your life?” or “what are you currently reading about in the Bible?” These are must weightier questions indeed, but these are simply one example of how, the more we internalize what it means to be united in Spirit with one another, the more we seek to invest spiritually!
So what can this look like with our children? For starters, it is us modeling this in our own lives and investing in theirs! Its seeking, as parents/primary influencers, to clearly communicate to our students that the most important facet of our relationship with them is the spiritual one! This means asking them spiritual questions, having times of study and worship together, and seeking to be active in discipling them! Next, its helping them find a balance in their own relationships between people who are investing in them/building up and people that they can pour into and invest in! This is a difficult balance and as parents our goal should be helping our students into self-awareness to see how they need to be engaging with those around them. Lastly, this means finding community as a family. Whether it is the church, family friends, or our neighborhood, finding spaces where the family unit is active and on a mission of discipleship is so incredibly powerful at communicating to our students the value of relationships that are based in nothing less than the power of God uniting His people!
Rev. Luke T. Long