It’s clear from Genesis 2v8 that God’s intention for humanity was not to do life alone. In fact, God’s intention for humanity was not even that we would experience two-ness (that is relationships ‘at a distance’). God’s great intention was that humanity would live with a profound sense of relational one-ness.
This is beautifully pictured in the one-ness of marriage. The man and the woman are joined together to become one flesh through sexual union. This is was God’s great purpose.
With this in mind, you would be forgiven for thinking that without marriage we are unable to experience the one-ness we were created for. Without marriage we are somehow left with a life that is less than God’s ideal.
That would be a serious mistake. The first marriage that we see in Genesis 2 was always pointing to something bigger. Christ did not simply give a rib but lay down his life in order to create his church, his bride. And the language of the New Testament about the church helps us see where we find the relational one-ness we were created for. Ephesians is a great place to look.
[Christ’s] purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two…
Two becomes one within the church. Different people are brought together to become one body. This is the greater one-ness that marriage was always pointing us to.
It doesn’t feel like that
That sounds nice but I don’t think that is always our experience of church. Could it be that we settle for ‘at a distance’ relationships rather than pursuing genuine one-ness?
Partly that is due to circumstance. We can get too busy. We can be tired out by work. We can need space. We can live in different parts of a big city and find ourselves geographically distant. There are lots of things that make this hard - especially in London.
But let’s be honest. It is sometimes because of our own sin. We are by nature selfish and inward looking. We find it hard to give up time for others (let alone a rib!). We would prefer a night in. Relationships are hard work.
So with that in mind here are ten ways that we could get a bit more one-ness in our relationships.
- Pray for one another. Sounds obvious but nothing deepens relationships like praying for people. Ask how you can pray. Then pray. Then next time you see them ask how things are going.
- Pray with one another. It should be so natural - but it isn’t. After the church service, over coffee, doing the washing up, whatever. Don’t be afraid to be the one who says ‘shall we pray together’
- Come for the meals. We eat together on Sundays and midweek in order to spend time together. You might not feel like it and I know for some of us it is really hard but others need you to come over and love them. Get to Focus at 7pm to share time with your group and talk about how people are doing. (If you really struggle, the kitchen is a good place to chat to people)
- Be an initiator. We often want people to notice us. But why not be the one who is looking for others.
- Honesty. It really helps relationships when we are open with one another. When we take off the masks and let people know what we are really like. That is scary but relationships grow that way.
- If you are married - don’t use marriage as an excuse to ignore others. We need to invest in our marriages - but we need to love and care for others too.
- Say yes. When someone invites you to something - or posts on the Facebook group then be someone who goes along.
- Clear some space. If you are too busy to ever see people are there ways to make more space for the sake of this one-ness in the church?
- Do boring things with others. It is ok to spend time with people doing boring jobs. Ask people if they want to come along with you.
- Be intentional. As this church grows you cannot be close friends with everyone. Think about how and who you invest your time. We fill our time with the people we already know and who we like. Be asking the question, ‘Who else…?’
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