Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back to basics...

Over the last couple of weeks on Sunday mornings, I have been sharing what has been identified by David Ferguson as 10 Vital Relationship Needs. These needs are clearly identified in Scripture and the wonderful thing is that God has provided the body of Christ to be vessels that can uniquely minister to these vital needs every human has. However, before we can effectively minister to and meet these needs in other people’s lives; we must allow our Heavenly Father to meet these needs in our own lives. Our vertical relationship with God is of prime importance as Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). Jesus went on to say that the 2nd greatest commandment is akin to the first; “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This speaks to the horizontal relationships all around us. Jesus said “There is no greater commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31). It’s interesting Jesus didn’t say “commandments” plural, He said “commandment” meaning in His mind, these commandments go hand in hand and are really one. Loving God with everything means you’ll love your neighbor as yourself. These two simple concepts, loving God with everything you have and loving others as you love yourself is what I mean by “back to basics.”

Just to quickly recap those 10 vital relationship needs and so you'll have them in print for reference; here they are with the appropriate Scripture references:

  1. Comfort - 2nd Cor. 1:3-4 - Giving strength & hope, easing grief or pain through empathy.
  2. Attention (Care) - 1st Cor.12:25 - Taking thought of another and conveying appropriate interest & concern; entering into another's world.
  3. Acceptance - Romans 15:7 - Receiving someone as they are, meeting them at the point of their need regardless of appearance & including them.
  4. Appreciation - 1st Cor. 11:2 - Recognizing with gratitude, communicating personal gratefulness for another person.
  5. Support - Galatians 6:2 - Coming alongside and helping to carry a problem or struggle.
  6. Encouragement - 1st Thess.5:11 - Urging forward and positively persuading toward a goal, inspiring with courage, spirit or hope.
  7. Affection - 1st Thess. 2:8 - Communicating care and closeness through appropriate physical touch or affirming words.
  8. Respect - 1 Peter 2:17 - Valuing & regarding highly; conveying great worth, esteeming or honoring another.
  9. Security - 1st John 4:18 - Freedom from harm, danger and fear, promoting confidence within relationships.
  10. Approval - Romans 14:18 - Affirming as satisfactory; expressing a favorable opinion of another.

I believe part of what God wants to do here at Calvary is use our church family to minister to these critical needs that everyone has, whether they are church members or someone we encounter in our daily lives, in our families, workplaces, classrooms, or among our friends. Really all it takes to meet these needs in another's life is to just care; care enough to stop, listen intently to the person, notice their body language or facial expressions and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's prompting to engage this person. The problem is that sometimes we're just overloaded with our own issues so it’s hard to focus intently on others. After the first week I shared the first five of these needs, a member told me “Pastor this is really good and important stuff we need to hear, I think the problem is people really just don't care anymore!” This gentleman was not being unkind, he was just stating out loud a silent reality from his perspective. I know that many people do care and they demonstrate that love of God and love of others each day. Everyone of us can make a huge difference in somebody's life if we would pay attention to the people around us we encounter every day.

Even in such a mundane task as going to the grocery store, you could pray “Lord, somebody important to You will touch my life today. Who will be that person? Please don't let me fail to be in touch with You and allow Your love to be released through me.” If you have the courage to pray that simple prayer, you'll be astounded at the simple opportunities God gives you to be a conduit of His love to a hurting person. I know it's scary. After all, getting involved in somebody's life can be a bit messy...okay, it can be a lot messy! But even the most sincere “I'm so sad you're having a bad day” or similar statement to someone may help them to know the Father's love. You can try this out in a restaurant with your waitress for serving you, or tell the bus-boy cleaning tables on your way by him how much you appreciate him serving you by doing his job! I promise you you'll make that persons day! I can almost guarantee you'll be the only person who'll do that for them.

It doesn't seem that hard does it? A simple expression of thanks to a waitress or bus-boy meets a vital need they have of appreciation or encouragement. I've told the ticket taker at the movie theater “thanks for working today so I can enjoy a night out with my family.” Instantly a smile breaks across that person's face because some old guy with gray hair showed them personal appreciation! Be inventive and creative as to how you could minister the love of God to people outside & inside the church.

If you're willing to do this to perfect strangers, how much more should we be doing this in our families? “Honey, that meal you made tonight was delicious.” “Sweetie, thanks for doing the laundry so when I opened my closet this morning, I had my choice of clothes to wear.” Watch what happens as your family expresses love and appreciation for each other. “Son, thanks for taking out the trash without me having to ask you.” Tell your kids you are proud of them often and watch what happens - even more so when you get specific and you are proud of little things they do & even more just for who they are: “Did you know you bring me and your mom such incredible joy and we thank God you're our child.”

Getting back to the basics, loving God and loving others will absolutely transform your walk with Christ. Let me encourage you to look at these needs and simply ask the Lord to meet these needs in your own life. You'll find that if you ask Him to meet this need for you, He'll be faithful to do so and that in turn will help you be sensitive to this need in someone else's life. Love God first with all you have and allow Him to meet these vital needs in your own life, then out of the over flowing love received from Jesus Himself, you'll be able to pour into the lives of others. Let me encourage you to try it this week and take note of what God does in your life and in the lives of others around you.

I'm getting back to the basics, from my little corner of the world to yours...

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church 

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