(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Staying Connected: The Importance of Relationships
By Mike Komisky
Ever since the beginning of time itself, God has yearned for community with His creation. He also wanted us to have relationships with each other. The Bible says that Adam walked with God in the garden and enjoyed his fellowship. In Genesis 2:18 we read, “The Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” We see that God never intended for men and women to alone or isolated. However, in today’s society, many people have no connection with Jesus. In fact, they have disconnection. Christians are struggling with their faith. Some feel abandoned, while others have no desire to get back to church. Ministries have been affected as people are no longer getting involved in helping others. What is happening? Is this all the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic? I don’t have all the answers, but may I address what I believe is vital to the heart of God during this season of uncertainty?
First of all, it goes back to our relationship with Jesus. How do we stay connected with Him? God loves intimacy. Since the fall of man in the garden, we were cut off from our union with Him. We willfully rebelled by choice as our hearts desired our own selfish motives. Yet, the God of the Old Testament continually reached out to man. Sin had entered the world. A reoccurring cycle of man sinning, repenting, then God restoring forgiveness and unfortunately, man’s disobedience happened repeatedly. Yet, He never gave up on his creation. He realized His people needed a Savior, so he sent His son to die on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb. He died and rose from the grave so we wouldn’t be separated from Him. Why would God send his son to die such a painful death for our sins? What was His motivation? His love and longing for a relationship with us.
Jesus offers forgiveness for our sins and grace that is unfathomable as well as a hope for our future. All he asks us is to do is surrender willingly to His will for our lives and give total control over every aspect of our lives. Jesus gave His all so we can give Him our all. For those Christians who feel alone or abandoned, separated from Him because of guilt, anxiety, doubt, shame or failure, come back to your first love (Revelations 2:5). I realize this past year we all have experienced loss, whether it be job, financial loss, or a loved one to name a few examples. We have been weighed down by our outward circumstances. Yet, know in your heart that Jesus is with you. He is in control. He can mend your broken heart and provide for your needs. All He yearns for is a love relationship (Matthew 22:37-39). Stay connected through prayer and listening for his still small voice, you can always know that God is for you. Hold on to His Word. He never will fail you.
In Matthew 22:37-39, the latter portion of the scripture says, “..love your neighbor as yourself.” This talks about our relationship with others. For many of us, this part seems harder to do. We tend to shy away from fellowship with other Christians. We isolate ourselves. Maybe we have scars that involve lack of trust. Maybe, it is pride thinking we do not need others and can do it on our own. Maybe it is hard to be vulnerable because we worry about what others will think. Whatever it is, Jesus calls us to be in community. We are all one body and yes, we all need each other. No one is meant to be an island. Isolation keeps us from the very thing we desperately need. That’s how we grow and that is what ministry is all about. Praying for others, being relational, sharing our lives together, helping one another, and to being a listening ear. That is community living.
Finally, we need to reach out to those who may not believe what we do, not criticize them. I would like to share this true story that shows what Jesus meant by loving your neighbor:
On a cold day (February 21, 2021) to be exact, winter storm “Uri” stuck the state of Texas. Hundreds of people were left stranded on the freeway due to tons of snow. One man (Ryan Stivley) decided he wanted to make a difference. He owned a four-wheel drive truck. He did not hesitate to start helping others. One by one, over the space of two days he pulled cars off the freeway as people were trapped. He pulled out 98 cars on day one and 47 the next! He took nurses to hospitals and other people to their home. When interviewed by the local news, they asked him what motivated him to help? He replied “a year ago last March, I got into a car accident and almost died. Yet, I was given a second chance. Now, I put myself in other people’s shoes.”
That’s community. That is what Jesus has called us to be. We all have been given second chances. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Listen to their needs. Don’t ever minimize their pain. This applies to everyone; churched and unchurched. People are hurting everywhere. Make yourself available. Invite people to church. I believe sometimes we are so concerned with our own problems, we lose sight of others. This is an opportunity we might not ever have again. Do not judge others. Love them instead. Jesus’ arms are open wide. His love is everlasting. He is with you in your deepest valley, and He will get you to the other side. Stay connected to Him and others. God bless.