A question popped into my mind this morning: what makes the relationships at church different than all the other relationships we share? Just for the record, I'm not one of those guys who believes in having your "church" friends and your "real" friends. I have discovered that my friends are my friends, some go to church and others do not. My question centers around the discussions being had between friends who call themselves followers of Jesus and those who don't. If I was to give my honest assessment, I believe the church, which is a spiritual community, often ends up being no different than a social club.
Let's face it, we can have conversations all day long about the weather, our kids, the latest development in Titans camp, the presidential race, and many other things. We seem to be able to carry a conversation about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie better than we can about the condition of our hearts. We don't often have much to say about the bitterness, jealously, envy, hate, lack of forgiveness, lust, pride, fear, and other things that too often fill our hearts. The church, and more importantly, the relationships in the church, are to be full of transparency so that we can lift each other up when we fall. It's OK to enjoy being with church people and having conversations outside of what Jesus has done for you. My fear is that we have that conversation all too often, and forfeit the closeness and realness gained from authenticity with each other. There is a big deficit in the number of conversations Christians are having that pertain to spiritual matters and growing.
This is why it's important to be in a small group on a regular basis. If you are not in a small group, find a 20/20/20 group to be a part of. Even beyond groups, there is a need to transition some of our close friendships to allow for more spiritual conversation to occur. There is too much at stake for us to not have others helping us along the journey. We have to allow conversations to take us into the presence of God so that we can grow together. You will be amazed when you being to engage in meaningful conversations just how much WE ALL struggle. Next time you are spending lots of time with people from church, ask yourself the question: is this a spiritual community or a social club? When you discover the answer, do something about it. Be the person who shifts the culture.