Developing relationships good for soul

There is something wrong with Christianity today. We Christians seem to spend a lot of time acting like we’ve got it all together. We are busy, so we try to be more efficient, but at the cost of being unable to give our time to others. Often, we believe that because we are so busy, we can be compassionate simply by writing a check to a charity. Don’t get me wrong; giving monetarily is a big part of following Christ. But we cannot stop there.

Let me explain a bit. We are often willing to voice our discontent with politics, with the economy, with our neighbor or with our pastor, but seldom do we have time to actively engage in solutions. We go through life with a happy face that reflects not our emotions, but rather our perception of how we need to look as Christians. We say things like: “Oh, it was God’s will” when we hear of or experience a loss. We say things like “This too shall pass” when confronted with a crippling loss of income due to a failing economy. We even say things like “God Bless you” as we throw some change into the cup of the man on the corner.

Now, all these responses may be true and even appropriate at given times. But here’s the rub. When we smile our “Christian” smile and have a ready response to fix what ails every hurting person, we are destroying the opportunity for authentic relationship. Maybe the cashier at the grocery store who lost her mom just wants someone to cry with. Maybe the laid-off father of three just wants to vent to someone who will listen. Maybe the homeless man on the corner was once just a laid-off father of three.

When Christ encountered hurting people, his response was different than mine. Let’s use Zacchaeus as an example. You can read about the encounter in the book of Luke, Chapter 19. Zacchaeus was a man who betrayed his people and exploited them monetarily for the occupying Roman Empire. So he’s a traitor and a thief and, very naturally, he’s not well liked. The crowd will not let him see Jesus, so he climbs a tree to where he can see. What does he want? Simply to see the savior, to see Jesus. Jesus knows he’s there and calls him down and then tells him he wants to spend the day with him. Strange. Here is arguably one of the most disliked, deceitful and hurting folks Jesus encounters, and Jesus’ response is not to “fix” him, not to be angry with him and not to ignore him, but rather spend time with him. This leads to Zacchaeus’ total life transformation. After Jesus’ invitation, Zacchaeus immediately admits his faults, and offers to do whatever he can to make it right.

We as Christians need to spend time in real relationships, showing our own imperfections and vulnerability so those we are with can share their imperfections and vulnerabilities with us. So in short, if we believe that the savior we serve is real, we must act real. If we want people to find the hope we have found, we must actively engage in the process of leading them to him. If we want others to follow our lord, we need to act like following our lord is more than something we do one day a week. Let’s make Christ our constant central focus, instead of focusing on him only when we have breaks from our constant busyness. Let’s strive for a true lifestyle change indicative of a true life change. Let’s be real.

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