INVOLVEMENT, KEY TO MEANINGFUL CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIP by Dr Sylvanus Ukafia
When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Acts 2:1 (TLB)
This verse of the scriptures tells us in unambiguous terms how the advent came about. It says the believers gathered in one place. They had received instructions from the Lord to wait in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49b) for the outpour of the Spirit. But you notice that they did not wait in their separate houses, but in the same place for as long as it took for the Holy Spirit to manifest. They stayed in the same place shared things in common; indeed, they were involved in each other’s life and in that context the Holy Spirit came. It is interesting to note that unity and mutual involvement played a crucial role in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. So many vaunts a new move of the Holy Spirit and divine phenomenon will continue to elude us until we unite get bounded and involved in the life of fellow believers.
Marian- Webster’s dictionary defines being “involved” as to “draw in as a participant” “relate closely”, “to connect”, “to include”. Being involved in the lives of other people therefore means that we connect with them, we participate in whatever they are doing and we include them in our plans and prayer. Without getting to this level of deep connection we cannot really talk about unity. There are many ways we can be involved with other Christians. In Hebrews 10:25, it says “Let us give up the habit of meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the day of the Lord is coming nearer”
Corporate fellowship is the birthplace of Christian unity; hence no meaningful relationship or involvement can ensue among Christians if they are not committed to it. Every genuine born again believer should desire the company of fellowship of believers. Deep calls to deep the Bible says. So also every believer is naturally drawn to fellowship with other believers. If this desire is really lacking in any Christian life then we have grounds to question their commitment to faith. Acts 2 paints a picture of the early church:
The believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another… day after day they met as a group in the temple and they had their meals together in their homes eating with glad and humble hearts praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group being saved (44-47)
This passage shows us convincingly that as soon as you become part of the kingdom of God, your life is no longer yours. You, virtually, loose claims of ownership over yourself, and your life, including your property they all now belong to the community. These people did not only stay together in “close fellowship” they also shared their belongings, including their meals. This leads us to the next way we can be involved in people’s life. These groups of Christians were so at home with each other that each person’s home became everybody’s home. The last sentence of verse 47 is not unconnected with the preceding ones. It was their bondedness, mutual involvement and communal life that brought about numerical increase in the church. What makes us think that we can experience growth by doing (or better still living) otherwise?
So many Christians today live as if they are in islands, all by themselves. Some even claim they do not need others. They take pride in their self-sufficiency and independence. But the truth is that they are not honest and humble to admit the truth that they put on a façade. Deep beneath their secure looks, self-reliant veneer is a tender spot that longs for affirmation, love and genuine concern from another person. We all need each other though we may not admit it. Most times it is when we need people that we begin to build relationships, which is wrong. We need to connect with people before we have need of them. Get involved in the life of some other person, know what they are doing, show some genuine concern. Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:9-16
“Let love be without hypocrisy…be devoted to brotherly love, give preference to one another in honour… contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality…be of the same mind towards one another, do not be haughty in mind but associate with the lowly”.
The word devotion is very important in that passage. According to Webster’s Dictionary, it means, “to commit wholly or chiefly”. It carries with it the idea of dedicating our entire lives to other believers out of love. Imagine what would happen if all of us were to live this way. The church would be the most amiable place, a place to reckon with. We wouldn’t have brethren in need because their needs would have been taken care of before they are known. But failure to cultivate this kind of family relationship is the reason that the present church is in its present shape, fractionalized, desperate and largely powerless. Paul the apostle enjoins us to be “happy with those that are happy and weep with those that weep”
Jesus meant the same thing in Matt 25:40(GNB) when he talked about those who did not show concern for him in his predicaments. In that same passage, he commends those who did. Amazingly, both groups of people asked Him what happened. His response is instructive: “Whenever you did this for one of the least important members of your family, you did for me”
He did not say do it for the greatest of his brothers, Pastors, or Church Elder. He said to the “least important”. In 1 Cor. 12:23, Paul referred to the least honourable parts of the body. This is interesting because it is easy for us to show love to the well placed and highly esteemed, but we are most likely to miss it when the person in question is “least important”. The truth is that our attitude to the less privileged amongst us counts with God. It is important to God that we identify and be involved in the lives of these people, because in doing so we are directly with God. God is not only a father to the high and privileged; he is a father also of the lowly and underprivileged.
The issue can hardly be over-flogged. We need to take practical steps to be involved in the lives of our brothers. A visit, a card and a word of encouragement may be all you need to show the love of God to that brother or sister. But humility and willingness are required if we are step out ourselves and connect with other members of the body.