Life Together: Relationship is the Key


“It is a picture of my bride, the Church: individuals who together form a spiritual city with a living river flowing through the middle, adn on both shores trees growing with fruit that will heal the hurt and sorrows of the nations. ….”

“….. You’re talking about the church as this woman you’re in love with; I’m sure I haven’t met her…. She’s not the place I go to on Sundays.”

‘Mack,  that’s because you’re only seeing the institution, a man-made system.  That’s not what I came to build.  What I see are people and their lives, a living breathing community of all those who love me, not buildings and programs.”

The above is a quote from “The Shack”, which I am reading through at the moment.  (Thank you for all who suggested – several times – that I read it … I can see why!) This book is so rich in truth about God and his relationship with us … as an extension of the relationship the Trinity has within itself.  I can’t put it down!

And yes, I know it’s a work of fiction.  I am not equating it with Scripture, but the concepts in this book are so poignant. The author – AND God the Father (called Papa in the book) – work deliberately to utterly destroy what men believe they know about God and his relationship with us.  I can see why some people would be uncomfortable with it – but I just have two words to say:  poetic license. Enough said.  *grin*  Here’s an example – those who read the book would know that Papa is God the Father, but in the book is represented as an African American woman, who said, in part,

“… I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are dreived from my nature.  If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I  love you.  For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

Powerful stuff.

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I didn’t plan it, but this post is an extension of my earlier Life Together Series – Showing Mercy, A Mutual Dependency, Authentic Friendships, and  A Shared Life. In fact, before my hiatus, I was dealing with relationship …. and the LoTR post that I still have to set up (sorry for promising for so long) will deal with fellowship and loyalty in relationship as well… stay with me.  It’s been a rough road for me – thanks for sticking this out with me.  Anyway as I was saying….

If the Church is not about the building, about the institution (“I don’t create institutions – nver have, never will”, Jesus said in the book) – what is it? Or, as Mack asked, “How can I become a part of that church?  This woman that you seem to be so gaga over?”

Jesus answers,

“It’s simple, Mack.  It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life.   What we are doing right now … being open and available to others around us.  My church is all about people and life is all about relationships.  You can’t build it.  It’s my job, and I’m actually pretty good at it,”

What about that?  There are so much nuggets of gold – more like great big pearls – of wisdom in this book… it’d take a while for me to process them all.

So, for God’s church to be authentic, we need to share life together,  authentic relationship.  Looking at one more set of quotes from The Shack, we bear out this point.  Talking to Jesus, Mack is asking about whose “in charge” of the Trinity – “I love how you treat each other.  It’s certainly not how I expected God to be.”  He tried to explain:

“… I have always thought of God the Father as sort of being the boss and Jesus as the one following orders, you know, being obedient…. the Sprit always seemed to be …. a free Sprit.”

Mack tried one more time,

“You know what I am talking about.  I am talking about who’s in charge.  Don’t you have a chain of command?”

Papa, Jesus and Sarayu had no idea what Mack was trying to say.  Jesus eventually said this:

“Mackenzie, we have no concept of final authority amoug us, only unity.  We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command… What you are seeing here is a relationship without any overlay of power.  We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best.  Hierarchy would make no sense among us.”

And we are a part of that great Scheme of relationship.  Jesus later says,

“As the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply ‘be’ in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.”

Ok so there it is.  Straight.

What does this post mean to you?  Is relationship like this possible?  Can anyone say that it is evident in their own life?  Discuss!

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Called to be a Friend….


When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be….

(You Raise Me Up – Josh Groban)

The above is a portion of the song You Raise Me Up…. it is so inspiring!  Heard that when visiting my wife’s assembly on Sunday… and then I felt the Lord speak to me.  His manifest presence came over me with such intensity I fell to the floor, crying in tongues. (It was intense, but those who know me know that even a nudge from the Lord usually gets me in the same state :mrgreen: )  Anyway…

He reminded me where I had told a friend of mine recently “I am a friend first, and anything else after,” when she was going through something and was opening up slowly to reveal what was going on in her heart.  God used that song to speak to me about being a friend, an encouragement.  I saw it as a commission, actually… where God was calling me as a friend the same way he called me as a prophetic person or, more recently, into the deliverance ministry.  In fact, paraphrased, he said:

You are called to be a friend to others,  to give them permission to cry, to release…. and you are called to release them from their bondage.

I will edit this post later to get the exact words the Spirit whispered to me, but you get the idea.  So my new ‘title’ is ‘friend’  🙂   I will always remember what my friend told me – “It would be very difficult to open up to a deliverance minister – no offense – but much easier to open up to a friend.”  That was her response after I told her that I was her friend before anything else.  It’s my embodiment of love that I posted about last week.  Love is an action … must be worked out practically.  Love is a habit – you have to make it such a part of you that you love without effort.  Love is a decision – you have to choose to love… not an emotion or something that you can fall into and out of!

So my encouragement is that you are all called to be friends – to come alongside the hurting, to give permission to release all the pent up emotions and pain that no one told them they could let go of, and then to restore them into God’s will for their lives!  Does this sound plausible?