Soon, we’ll have lived in our current home for two years. We are enjoying the house, the location, the neighborhood, and most of the neighbors. However, one that lives pretty nearby has proven less than pleasant. His wife is an officer in our neighborhood HOA, and each month’s newsletter is a new posting of the hierarchy’s “95 theses.” Hardly anyone can keep from committing at least one infraction—certainly not us. They’ve had very little communication with us except when the husband complained that our compost pile was too close to the fence (on the other side of which were his garbage cans). Recently, while seeking our permission to re-paint their house, he took the opportunity to inspect the state of cleanliness of our garage. I share his desire that we keep our homes and yards in good shape, as property values are riding on our collective interest in such. The problem for them is that they have spurned our efforts at a relationship and they have done nothing to create one themselves. Thus, we tolerate and peacefully co-exist. But, there is no relationship.
Have you thought about how vital relationships are to our lives? Think about how ineffective we are with people without them. At best, we are mere associates. At worst, we become antagonists. Think of how vital the entity of relationship is to:
- Marriage (1 Pet. 3:7).
- Parenting (Deu. 6:1ff).
- A congregation (1 Th. 5:11).
- Shepherding (John 10:4-5).
- Church discipline (2 Cor. 2:6-8).
- Restoring the erring (Gal. 6:1-2).
- Preaching (2 Tim. 2:24-26; 4:2).
- Church works (Eph. 4:16).
- Deacons’ work (Acts 6:7).
- Soul-winning (Col. 4:2-6).
- Friendship (Prov. 18:24b).
Taking the time to build rapport may be mentally and emotionally exhausting at times. The best of relationships will have their downs as well as their ups. But God created us social beings not meant for isolation (Gen. 2:18). Joel O’Steen is shallow and superficial in his “preaching,” but tens of thousands of people are drawn to him because they find him relatable. His message is deadly, but his method is engaging. Some who consider themselves the staunchest “defenders of the faith” are virtual porcupines with their quills primed to stick those in their proximity. Surely those of us striving to follow New Testament Christianity can strive to build relationships while we steadfastly teach and follow the truth. How much more effective will we be as we conquer this principle every day?