Today I read an excellent blog posting by Kirk Bartha on Spiritual Friendships that reminded me of the value of covenant relationships. Please take a moment to briskly read over Kirk's posting. In light of what Kirk shared, I want to start a brief study on the Apostle Paul and how he cultivated kingdom relationships. Studying the framework of spiritual friendships in Paul’s apostolic ministry will help us to understand the value of covenantal relationships. Indeed, Paul would be tagged by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point) as a Connector: one who traverses a number of different relational spheres, and is highly connected.
Why was Paul an effective messenger of the Gospel? Did it have something to do with his willingness to be close and transparent?
I think Kirk’s example of the Apache Indian Chief embracing him at the airport without reservation is powerful; unrestricted and uninhibited, this complete stranger was willing to bring him close. Erwin Raphael McManus – author of Seizing Your Divine Moment – wrote the following: If you want to increase your influence, risk bringing people up close. Close enough to see the warts and all; to endure offensive, stale breath; and, to simply feel their heartbeat – literally and figuratively. To know someone’s “heartbeat” is to know the heart wrenching experiences that defines their brokenness. It also involves a willingness to listen to seemingly outrageous dreams; it allows room for hidden insecurities and unsettling fears to be expressed; and, it passionately celebrates their greatest joys and victories.
I know I desire to walk in authentic, covenantal relationship with those that I am called to walk with. Thankfully the Lord has blessed me tremendously over the years with multiple relationships that have enriched my life – however, I believe the Lord is calling me to walk more fully in this revelation. It is the call to embrace heart-to-heart. It is the call to love and sacrifice.
Who do you have in your life that affirms the dream that God has placed deep within your spirit? Who are those that you can bear your soul – the good, bad, and the ugly – without fear of rejection or backlash? Have you exhibited this kind of holy embrace to another? And, how do we even begin this new journey of spiritual friendship if it is a concept that is foreign to our past experience? Is this something that we are all called to pursue or is it only for a select few?
Looking forward to some dialogue!
Brian Francis Hume