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
Hi Brian..got your link from your comment on Kirk's blog..I wanted to elaborate on my own recent experience if I might;
Kirk's blog really spoke to me too.. it seems that I'm headed in the same direction right now.
I was raised in an alcoholic home and I developed very co-dependent behaviour. Even as a Christian I could not open up to anyone, family or friends; I think I was even out of touch with myself. I was so used to 'doing'& 'performing'. It has been a lonely journey. But over the past two years I've been in prayer counselling/healing prayer, and have been allowing people to get closer..its been gut wrenching at times to be exposed, vulnerable, and weak.
Just last night our home group has been going through a book called "The Emotionally Healthy Church" by Peter Scazzero and wow, what an eye and heart opener. (By the way I would highly recommend checking out this book) We just went through a chapter on brokenness and vulnerability and I weeped almost the entire time, realizing that I have spent most of my life feeling deeply disappointed...in others, myself, God, authority, you name it - then it came down to me feeling like a disappointment to God.
Just being able to admit this to myself and others was a real breakthrough for me - embarassing to say the least, but healing at the same time. I was surprised how much my vulnerability caused everyone else to respond with real concern, care, kindness and they didnt try to 'fix' me..I could just be..and let God minister to me..it was truly amazing..
wow... very good questions.
Today, my daily reading in "Daily with the King" by W. Glyn Evans reads,
"The difficulty of the middle part of the road is the absense of a cheering section. When I made my initial decision to follow Christ, what cheers came from loved ones and friends! When I shall come within sight of the celestial city, what a rousing welcome awaits me from those who went before me!
But very few, if any, stand in the heat and dust of the road between to cheer me on. My comforts diminish, my friends are busy with their own journeys, and even God seems to have withdrawn a little.
I must live trusting the naked Word of God..."
I've added you as a link on my blog..hope you're ok with that..
Thanks for the link. I commend you for sharing your heart. You shared how those in your home group didn't try to "fix" you, which is such a blessing! In our culture that can be a challenge due to the mentality of "fix it if it is broken." However, I pray that the Lord will bring alongside key believers who can walk with you through your restorative process. This is so vital, which I can personally attest to. Blessings!
YES! In my opinion, lack of intimacy and vulnerability is one of the greatest obstacles that is preventing the church from moving forward! Even James said that our confession to eachother is what brings healing. All of us have been hurt and, thus, we tend to hold back. Yet all of us are broken and we need each other.
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