“Unfortunately, many people grow up in families with unhealthy relationships, so they lack the relational skills needed for real fellowship. They must be taught how to get along with and relate to others in God’s family. Fortunately, the New Testament is filled with instruction on how to share life together.”
I realize I didn’t have the healthiest relationships in my family, growing up. Perhaps, it was meant for me to have difficulty in this area. We all have obstacles, difficulties in our lives that seem nearly impossible to overcome. I also believe there is a reason for everything. I try to look for the reason. Some things, I work on daily to overcome. I think this builds strength and character – to better yourself and your life, because you want to please God. You also want to be able to live with yourself, and set a good example for others, especially your children. God wants me to be happy and to do the right thing, so I need to find ways to do this. I work at it daily. Other things, well, they are too difficult to overcome.
For instance, public speaking. Now, I have a fear of spiders that you would not believe, but my fear of public speaking is worse than that. I dropped out of college for fear of public speaking. A mere 3-5 minute speech was all I had towards the end of 2-3 of my classes and I could not (or yes, would not) carry this out. One of my greatest fears.
Why is it so easy for me to pour my heart out when I’m writing or typing but when I come face-to-face with someone, I freeze? Partly, how I grew up, I’m sure. I would like to add that I am not blaming my parents. I believe that we choose who we want to be in this life, no matter how we are raised or what happens to us.
Things happen. Stuff happens. Are we going to sulk and dwell on that stuff or are we going to try to learn something from the stuff, grow from it, gain strength, build character and be better because of and in spite of the stuff. These are choices we make for ourselves. We each have the ability to overcome any obstacle, if the want is there. Yes, even public speaking. I’m working on it, ok?
To overcome does not take place overnight. It may take years. The point is that we try every day. We work on ourselves every day to overcome, to grow and learn and build new better, us’. 😉
“Cultivating community takes honesty.” We all need to learn how to lovingly speak the truth, don’t you think? Many of us either ignore the truth or we try to smooth things over to avoid conflict. Why do we not tell people (that we are supposed to love, by the way) the right thing – that thing they need to hear? It is our duty, this chapter tells us. I know it to be true. I’ve read this in the Bible. We are to confront someone in love, to be honest with them, and correct them, when they are on the wrong path. “Solomon said, “An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.”” So, why do we not speak up? I’ll tell you why. FEAR. That four-letter word! Fear of the thought “Am I judging them? I don’t want to sound judgmental.” “It’s none of my business. I just need to mind my own business.” “If I tell them they are wrong or making a mistake, they’ll be angry with me.” “Who am I to tell them they are wrong?” There are so many doubts and so much fear that stops us from correcting someone. Oh, I have them, too. I don’t like correcting people. We feel they have to make their own mistakes and we pray and hope they’ll learn one day. It’s not the right thing to do. Just as we correct our child, or our mother, when we feel they are making a bad choice, we must love others as much to correct them when we see them messing up.
These people – we don’t see them as our family, so it’s hard for us. But they are our family. It is better to do what is pleasing to God than to worry about upsetting the balance of our friendships, our relationships. “The Bible says, “In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.””
Now, there is a right and wrong way of being honest and frank with someone. When we do that with love, we choose our words carefully. We do not use harsh words or sound judgmental, nor do we gossip about this person to others. We are to treat(talk to) each other as if they are our father, mother, sister or brother, depending on the age difference between us. When we look at it this way, wouldn’t you find it easier to speak to them with love?
You know, some people do not realize they are doing the wrong thing. They could have been raised in such a bizarre fashion, that they are doing what they think is right, only because this is how they’ve been taught. They’ve had no one to correct them. That’s our job now. That becomes our job. Do we want the job? Heck no! We have our children. Isn’t it enough just to raise them, without taking on the world to raise everyone else?! I get how hard it is. It’s hard for me. But, it’s the right thing. I’m just sayin’.
I actually have people in my life that points out my mistakes and makes me very aware of them. Do I like these people? Ha! Sometimes yes; sometimes no. Do I get angry that they correct me and make me realize things about myself I do not like? Of course. Well, sometimes. I suppose I was defensive in the beginning. However, I’ve learned or am learning how to listen a little better and try to respect this other person’s point of view. Do I do this well? Not always. Sometimes, I’m still defensive. But, I do eventually appreciate these people for their honesty and frankness. They don’t always speak with love. They can sound quite judgmental and they make plenty of mistakes themselves. It’s easier for me to dish out a little correctness for them, as well, since they were so honest with me. 😉
On page 172 – reading the second paragraph about “cultivating community takes confidentiality,” – speaking about gossip, about confronting someone who might cause division among Christians.” Let me tell you, it is all about how you handle this. There is a right way and there is a completely wrong way.
I used to be a part of this Bible study group. This was a group of friends. We all went to the same church. We were not all in the same Sunday School, but we all cared about each other. One friend started the Bible study group. There were about, oh, let me see, maybe 8 to 10 of us? We always met at the girl’s house – the “leader” of the group. We would all bring food and we’d have supper while we took turns reading aloud, studying, talking, sharing. We would start at like 6:30. Some would arrive a few minutes late. A couple of the people were becoming a little irritated, saying that we needed to start at 6:30, with or without them, we had families we needed to get back to and we didn’t have all night to wait for everyone to show up. I did agree with these people. When you set a time, you start at that time and end when you are supposed to (just my opinion).
Also, some people began to complain that bringing food was a hardship, and that the eating time was taking away from the Bible study time and that we needed to do away with the food. The leader agreed that we would no longer have supper. We would no longer bring food. I felt the food part was sort of important. While we ate, we shared with each other. We talked. We fellowshipped. But, I did as she suggested, to make everyone (maybe not everyone) happy.
The leader of the group became so troubled about the complainers that she spoke with our church pastor to learn how to handle the situation. He told her to lovingly confront. Do you know what she did? She was so very angry when everyone arrived, finally, and so sick of hearing all these people complain, that she got in everyone’s face at once, in a very irate tone, telling us, “This is my house and this is my Bible study. Yes, I set this up to start at 6:30 and many of you have expressed your impatience about late-comers, but this is my bible study and if they need to arrive late, then we will start when I say we’ll start. If you don’t like that we no longer have supper, you don’t have to be part of this bible study. You can leave. If you don’t like the way we are doing things or how I choose to run my bible study, you can leave. Go ahead. Leave.” Oh my gosh!!! I could feel my heart beating right out of my chest. I could hardly breathe. I felt she punched me in the gut! You do not talk to people like that. And let me say it’s never “your” bible study. It belongs to God. It’s not “you” running the bible study. It’s God and it’s all the people who are part of the bible study. It’s not “yours”. Never have I felt the devil’s presence more strongly.
Have you ever felt the devil was in the same room with you? Sitting on the same couch as you? I was so scared to death, I could not move. All I could do was pray for God to give me strength to gather my belongings and get out of there. A minute or two later, I gathered my things and headed for the door, with tears in my eyes. Then the “leader” yelled at the group again, “If anyone else wants to leave, go ahead!” It’s events like these that make it hard for me to relate to people, to spend time in gatherings, in groups – I don’t want to be attacked. Everyone there was attacked. No, they (Bible studies) are not supposed to be like this. I just haven’t found the right fit for me yet.
We must learn what it means to be humble. “Pride blocks God’s grace in our lives, which we must have in order to grow, change, heal, and help others. We receive God’s grace by humbly admitting that we need it. The Bible says anytime we are prideful, we are living in opposition to God! That is a foolish and dangerous way to live.”
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” It “is thinking more of others.”
Page 173 in the second to the last paragraph where it talks about making a group covenant that includes the nine characteristics of biblical fellowship – I would love to find that in a group. I have certain people, but not a grouping of people together who do this. Still searching.
What are your thoughts on this chapter? I really had a lot more to share regarding this chapter, but didn’t want to drag out today’s post, plus I need to finish getting ready for work.
It’s Friday! Wooo-hoooo! Go out there and make it a fabulous Friday! Friday rocks! The weekend is on the horizon. Love ya! *hug*