Killing Relationships Kills History
2014-03-21
Pastor's dream of having the relationship to a church that Paul had with the Elders in Ephesians.  If he is a godly man who is pursuing Jesus, he wants what Paul had.  In Acts 20:36-38 Luke writes, "...he knelt down and prayed with them all.  And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again."

Wow.  I suspect that pastor's are not the only ones who desire relationships like this.  I suspect that people of all walks of life desire relationships that are trustworthy, loving, encouraging, and historical.  Historical?  What does that mean?  Have you ever heard the saying, "We have a lot of history together."?  History is an indispensable ingredient in lasting, loving and Christ-like relationships.  Every relationship in the Scriptures involves history.  In the movie Frozen, Anna "falls in love" with a stranger who in the end betrays her in an attempt to steal her sister's kingdom.  Some of the funniest lines come from characters who react to the news of her super fast engagement - after all, she had only met, fallen in love with, and got engaged to her man within just about 20 minutes of meeting him.  That just doesn't happen.  Why?  Because relationships require history.  

Far too often in our consumerist Christian community we fail to realize the important role history holds in our relationships.  Far too many church people are willing to leave pastors, leave friends, leave churches, leave marriages, and leave friendships all because of some personal preference or grievance that they are unwilling or unable to work through - and it is always because of sin.  Yes - always because of sin.  Schism is always the result of sin at some level.  What many of us fail to realize is that we can't buy history.  We can't speed up history.  We can't manufacture history.  We make history and history takes time.  When we kill friendships we are killing time.  We are killing history.  

I wonder if part of the problem that churches (and friends) have when they break up is because we have not spent real time making real history with one another.  We are programming together and studying together but we aren't walking together in life and mission in any real and meaningful way.  The closest friends I have are those who have walked through the valley of death with me and I with them.  Some of my closest friends have planted a church with me, run youth ministry with me, and we have been to different parts of world doing mission together.  We have a real history.  Some of these same close friends have hurt me and I have hurt them - but something far greater than self-interest rescues us when we are hurt by one another.  Love for Christ and love for each other.  

I have friends in my life that have mentored me for the better part of 25 years.  I have other friends in my life whom I have mentored for the better part of 20 years.  We have history for better or for worse.  When I think about what life might be like in California, or when I have given my last effort, or when I am ready to hold a grudge, I think about the history.  Am I willing to kill time?  Am I ready to leave something so valuable as history?  

I want to apply the relationship Paul had with the Ephesians in Acts 20 to the modern church.  The local western churches today offer so many great options.  There is literally a church on every corner in some areas and they are all doing church right in their own eyes - there is much debate on whether or not this is a good thing - something to address in another post.  Many members will bounce around from church to church every couple of years or every 10 years or whatever the case may be.  This was not the case in the early church.  An Ephesian didn't simply leave his or her family and friends when the Elder didn't preach the right way, or the readings were too contemporary, or the small group wasn't effective, or the children's program was spelled "Kids" instead of "Kidz".  There was only one church to work with and people had to work out their differences.  And do you know what our differences, our conflict, and our debate create?  History.  Lots of history.  That is one of the reasons why the Elders and Paul cried when they left one another.  They had something that could never be bought - history.  

I know that there are legitimate reasons to leave friendships, churches, and relationships - but more often than not those reasons are artificially legitimized as we bypass real conflict resolution, dump humility, and work for our own glory rather than God's.  

If there is one thing we might take from the Ephesian church and their relationship to Paul could it be their history?  Before you break someone's heart, before you leave your spouse and children, before you give a verbal beat down to church leaders who may or may not deserve it, before you tell your struggling Bible Study leader that they are ineffective - think about the whole picture.  Think about the history and wonder how God might by using that history to make you more like Jesus.  

Jesus redeems our history when we keep looking to Jesus for our redemption.  Even the bad days in the worst relationship will bring glory to God.   


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