(By Diego Cuartas)
Recent interactions with people within the church have left me wondering how we are doing when it comes to relating to the Body of Christ and modeling relationships after the character of our Covenant Father. There seems to be a revolving door through which men and women, believers from all kinds of walks, come and go because they are not staying long.
I remember my family of origin had a unique characteristic that was both an asset and a liability. If I can say it this way, we were plainly nice at any cost. The asset helped us on the one hand to find ways to be hospitable and allowed us to connect with others in ways that would help them feel welcomed and cared for. The liability reared its head when tension or conflict was present with another person and being lovingly honest with them seemed like too big of a price to pay. Growing up in my family context shaped me in ways that I am sure account in part for the dysfunctional or distorted view I developed of people. I began to view people as really BIG at the expense of reducing God’s size to a smaller one. People-pleasing became one of my normal currencies in my relational exchanges with people. It was not long into my young adult years that I realized how dysfunctional my contribution to friends, coworkers, family, dating and even serving others was. There is no doubt that my relating patterns were now reflecting in some way my family value called “niceness”.
A verse I had journaled back in February of this year describes for me the character of our heavenly Father, which He in turn desires for us to reflect in our relationships with other believers within the Body of Christ. Consider with me this precious statement presented in Deuteronomy 4:31:
“For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.”
Notice that our heavenly Father regards His relationship with us as a covenant. Granted, this is a very unbalanced covenant because He is willing to contribute His best and most even though we fall short of meeting his personal expectations and standards. Thanks be to God that this is not how we are to always live. When we are in Christ, the disproportion of this covenant is leveled by a mercy that satisfies the deepest longings of our Father. We could say that the commitment God has toward us is only based on the sacrifice made by another. Furthermore, we learn that this Father will never leave us or destroy us. No matter what happens, He will not forget that what joins us to Him is the covenant He initiated and facilitated through the blood of His own Son.
Why then do we enter and exit relationships with others within the Body of Christ so easily? How deep is our commitment? How long is our forbearance? How merciful is our heart? I believe the dysfunctional symptoms we experience in the present time within our local communities of faith can’t be healed by treating the community as a whole. The renewing in the way we do relationships will happen when each individual takes a step- a step that is in keeping with our Covenant Father. Where we learn from Him and lean on His resources until all possible ones have been exhausted. Where we bring honestly our personal poverty so that richness can be ours at the end. Where we fight for unity. And only after we have prayed and exhausted all the possible resources given to us will we say it’s time to part ways. I hope with time the revolving door will move slower only to give entrance to newcomers!
If you are in need of practical ways to do your part in bringing health to our dysfunctional family, I encourage you to read and follow the Apostle Paul’s prescriptions of our Covenant Father found in Ephesians 4.