Reconciliation through relationships

This past Sunday our pastor taught from 1 Thessalonians 3 on the theme that relationships are essential in the task of joining with God in reconciling people to Himself forever.

Our pastor built his sermon on the realities of relationships:

  1. Relationships are purposeful. They are necessary to encourage people along in their relationship to the Lord.
  2. Relationships are costly. At the very least, there is a time investment.
  3. Relationships are risky; you could be rejected.
  4. Relationships are rewarding. The reward is seeing others progress in faith.
  5. Relationships are best when future-focused.

He concluded with a discussion of how to overcome relational distance—a distance of emotions and values that can make us feel miles and miles away.

I wonder how many in the audience were nodding in assent as I was, thinking of family members, or friends at work, or neighbors with whom we could strengthen our relationships? But now, I wonder how many were as dense as me, and not thinking at all about those I consciously or unconsciously avoid relationship with?

I’ve been reading David Kinnaman’s book “unChristian” where he documents research that demonstrates the low opinion that 16 to 29 year-olds in America have of Christianity. My generation, and I in particular, have a significant relational distance from that skeptical generation. But how can that generation’s perception be changed without engaging in relationships with true Christ followers?

What other population segment are you far from relationally? When Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” (Luke 6:26) isn’t it implicit that He is commanding us to also reduce our relational distance to our enemies?

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