(Over the next week we will be focusing on seven areas of the mission statement of Immanuel CRC)
"Immanuel Christian Reformed Church
is a multigenerational community of disciples
called by God to utilize our spiritual gifts
by growing in our knowledge of and passion for Jesus Christ,
joining in relationship with others,
and serving God in the renewal of His creation."
Joining in Relationship with Others - We come alongside members of Immanuel and also our other spheres of influence (school, work, neighborhood) to grow and serve.
Last summer we had a BBQ in Michigan with a bunch of friends we hadn't seen in a while. These were people that we had done ministry with, mentored, laughed with, and served with for the five years that we had lived in Michigan. It was one of the best nights of my summer. We all talked, laughed, and shared memories of the past and things that had happened to us since we last connected. I love those friends very much.
Last night I sat with two of my best friends and talked about life, families, work, and ministry. These friends know me better than most people do. We share a lot of laughs and stories and time. I value the time I get to spend with them very much and I always look forward to hanging out with them. I love those friends very much too.
We join in relationship with all sorts of people. Some of them are short term, others are long term. Some have purpose and others are casual. We meet them in all of the circles that we are a part of. At work, in our neighborhoods, at schools and church. When we talk about joining in relationships with others we need to think about friendships that are deep and circles that are wide.
Deep friendships are the kinds that move past the surface. They may begin in surface level conversations but they move on to deep investments into each other's lives. These are the kinds of relationships that challenge us and lift us up. They help us through tough times and celebrate joys with us. These people know us very well--our fears and hopes--and love us anyways. They are the relationships that take time to build and last as time passes. We don't have very many of these friendships. All too often we shy away from them or don't seek them out. But these relationships are so necessary for us. They are the ones that help us grow and serve the most.
Wide circles can be a challenge as well. We tend to settle in to comfortable lives and not venture very far from what we know. While this may lead to deep friendships, it doesn't lead to wider circles. And wider circles of influence are something that we are called to as well. When we widen who we know we grow in what we know. We learn new points of view and the world becomes larger for us. We realize that we don't have to actually agree on every little detail in order to be friends. We may also learn that we aren't always right and that there are other points of view worth considering as well.
No matter what kinds of relationships you have, it is good to evaluate them from time to time. Do you need to deepen some of these relationships? Do you need to widen your circles a bit? How do they help you grow and serve?