I am at this place in my walk with Jesus where I desire intimate community with others so bad. We go to church on Sundays, Wednesdays, and sometimes Sunday nights.
This is the general routine: We go chat with a few folks for a few minutes until worship starts. Once worship begins we find our place. I am very expressive in my worship, not to draw attention to my self, but to attempt to give Jesus a small amount of what he deserves. After worship, we sit and listen to a message. Once the message is over we chat with a few more people until we have herded our kids into the van and head back home.
For the record I love all of this. I just feel a very real void of intimate relationships with other believers. It may sound weird to say but I enjoy people that I am close with challenging me in my faith and beliefs. The problem I see with the church is that when someone is “corrected” how many prayers have both parties prayed together? Or how many meals have been shared together? How many tears have been shed in the battles of life together? How many victories have been celebrated together? How many laughs over coffee, road trips, or mission trips?
We complain about people who “church hop”, without asking what they are searching for. See when someone tries to “correct” someone else that they have not been intimate with in any way what so ever, it just leads to hurt and offense. Should we respond in offense? No.
We should have a grace for those who are in a position of “authority” and think that just because they have a title (pastor, deacon, or elder) by their name they have been given the right to correct without barely knowing your history.
I am in need of worshipping and experiencing the presence and glory of God with those I have fought with, wept with, laughed with, drank with, ate with, travelled with, and sat with.
I believe gathering corporately is important still It just leaves me longing for more. I picture when Jesus told the 120 to go to the upper room and wait for three days. I can see them praying over each other, laughing together, helping with the babies, singing together, catching up on old times, crying together. Then Holy Spirit shows up. What a beautiful site.
We cry out for revival, but I believe this is a huge part of beginning the process of sustainable revival. If e can not steward our intimate relationships with one another in intimate settings, how will we ever steward what the Lord wants to pour out on us corporately?
Maybe social media has a part to play. We come home, wake up, or whatever, and we check on our statuses. How many likes do I have? How many retweets? I love social media just like the next believer. We are able to connect and friends that have moved far away. I think we use it today in some cases as a replacement to getting together in a living room, or eating a meal with friends. There is nothing that can compare to talking face to face.
Look at our relationship with Jesus. If the only way we communicate with Him is reading the bible, e are missing out on a huge part of the relationship. We are to worship in SPIRIT and TRUTH, not just truth (bible).
Have you ever been to a party where no one knows each other? Probably would be pretty lame. Everybody would come in with there guard up and you would put in your “appropriate” amount of time and then leave. This is sort of how church services go in churches where the congregation refuses to gather and build amazing intimate relationships that are free in Love and healthy confrontation.
I bet you have been in a awesome worship service where you were really feeling the presence of God and felt like responding to Him in a way that is outside the realm of what is usually considered normal for you. If you have little to no vulnerability built into the relationships with the others gathered in the service, there is probably no way you will step into a new level of freedom and intimacy in the expression of your worship toward Jesus. Flip it now, if you do have awesome relationships of vulnerability and covenant love with those in the service, you are now fully free to step up and into more levels of freedom and intimacy in the expression of your worship!
Jesus chose his disciples and then they literally lived together for the next three years. They created memories and history together. The funny thing about all of this is that when I wasn’t following Jesus I had better community in my life. There was sin but there was also a lot better sense of belonging, intimacy, and bonding that took place. When I think about that maybe it is because we accepted each other more easily. We didn’t pretend to have it all together, so we felt more accepted. The church has a way, wether they are trying to or not, of making you feel like you better get your crap together or you will not be an insider.
The truth is we are going to spend eternity together anyway so why not begin to build history and relationship with those you worship with. Go through tough times together, fight battles, cry, and laugh it up. Eat and drink together, celebrate, and grieve together. These are the things that build relationships that do not just last a lifetime, but stretch all the way into eternity.
I challenge you to become intentional with creating these close relationships with those you worship with. Start living life on life with them. Let them in. It will change your whole view of your heavenly Father. It will change the atmosphere in your church, community, city, and nation!