Connecting, Serving, Growing...together in Christ
“We want to see thousands of men, women and children (our neighbors)…becoming radical, reproducing apprentices of Jesus Christ.”
We’re all about becoming…. Becoming what we are purposed to be through God’s divine intention. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Connecting is a critical and fundamental aspect of all human beings. We were made for connection. When we aren’t connected with others in relationships we suffer the ill-effects of our isolation and separation. Our first and greatest need for relational connection is with God. We are spiritual beings, meant for spiritual connection with our Creator. For those who pursuing a life of faith in Jesus Christ, this connection is the first and greatest need.
Community is first about connecting, as well as serving and growing. In a healthy community we intentionally connect with others, knowing that no matter what our other differences, we are bound together by the ultimate unity of Jesus Christ, the “Head of his body,” which is the Church.
Connecting with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
Our first and most critical relational connection is God Himself. Our greatest obstacle to connecting with God is ourselves. We tend to live disconnected, wanting to go our own way, live our own independent life, dependent on no one. Yet, the fruit of that kind of living is invariably sour and unsatisfying. When we are able to acknowledge and respond to God’s loving invitation to return to relationship with Him through faith and trust in His Son, Jesus, we are restored to the vital, life-giving connection intended for all human beings. All other connections in our lives are dependent upon this connection. A relationship with God the Father, through faith in the Son, Jesus transforms and empowers all other relationships.
In the Gospel of Matthew the Pharisees were quizzing Jesus, trying to test him. They asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” (Matthew 22:34-40). Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” All our relationships begin with our connection to God. Jesus made this quite clear as he pointed out that truth to the Pharisees. He continued, “and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This is a basic truth of Christian life: Love of our neighbors is inseparably connected and dependent upon our connection to, and love of, God.
Recommended Connecting Resources:
- The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith
- Knowing God, J.I. Packer
- The Me I want to Be, John Ortberg
- Jesus the King, Tim Keller
- The Jesus I Never Knew, Phil Yancey
- Self-examination and confession
- Study (especially the Gospels)
- Contemplative Prayer
Connecting with others
Connecting with others is a key component of living as apprentices of Jesus Christ. We were not made to be alone (Gen. 2:18). In fact, we are made for community. We will not grow and prosper in isolation from other apprentices who are traveling the same path of discipleship. When we begin to grow in our connections with God’s people in community, it is natural that we would also reach out to connect with others who are not. Just as we are not created to be alone, we are also not created to focus only on ourselves. Jesus calls us to reach out to others who don’t know him, just as he did.
Taking initiative to connect: "Zaccheus, I’m coming to your house today!" (Luke 19:1-10)
Jesus is our greatest teacher and example in this. The account of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, a despised Jewish tax collector, is a particularly powerful lesson.
Zacchaeus has heard of this “Jesus” and was eager to see him as he was walking through his village. So, because he was vertically challenged, he climbed the nearest tree to see Jesus as he walked by. As Jesus approached the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, I must be a guest in your house today.” Was it absolutely necessary that Jesus stay at his house? No. Jesus was making a connection with Zacchaeus; a connection that many others refused to make. No one liked tax collectors, especially chief tax collectors. They got rich from “overcharging” people while they worked to collect taxes for the Roman oppressors. Who’d want to stay with such a person? Jesus. He was always taking the initiative to connect with the people who were cast-off and rejected by others. Taking the initiative to make relational connections, especially with marginalized and overlooked people, is one of our most important choices as apprentices to Jesus.
- Jesus with Dirty Feet, Don Everts
- Just Walk Across the Room, Bill Hybels
- Evangelism Outside the Box, Rick Richardson
- Based on a True Story, James Chuong
- Making Room, Christine Pohl
- Spiritual Friendship/Mentoring