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Relationships Matter

Godly integrity forms the solid basis and the binding strength of the core of mission work: relationships. Ultimately Christians want non-believers to have the same eternal life-giving and life-changing relationship that they themselves have with God, so it is critical for believers to display, reflect and encourage such a relationship with their family, friends, co-workers and community members. The behaviour expressed through their diverse relationships, accompanied by positive and negative effects, may be observed as much by shop owners, local police, lawyers, religious leaders and the ruling elite, as by refugees, beggars, prostitutes, orphans and the homeless.Godly integrity forms the solid basis and the binding strength of the core of mission work: relationships. Ultimately Christians want non-believers to have the same eternal life-giving and life-changing relationship that they themselves have with God, so it is critical for believers to display, reflect and encourage such a relationship with their family, friends, co-workers and community members. The behaviour expressed through their diverse relationships, accompanied by positive and negative effects, may be observed as much by shop owners, local police, lawyers, religious leaders and the ruling elite, as by refugees, beggars, prostitutes, orphans and the homeless.

Geof  Vines, an industrial chaplain, once did a survey to see what workers thought of their Christian colleagues. Most workers said the believers were either hypercritical or aloof and stand-offish, thus alienating themselves. However, a small number of believers were recognised by their helpful deeds, and it’s encouraging that a link was actually made between their Christianity and their practical love.

James 2:17-18 says, ‘…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.’ “You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?” I can talk all I like, but if my actions don’t back up what I say then my words are empty and meaningless.

Relationships grounded in truth and integrity serve as a strong template in leading people to Christ. |
Relationships built on trust are resilient foundations for growing disciples and ministries for Christ.We believe in the same gospel and Saviour and Lord — but we are human and if I don’t trust you, if I don’t believe you can do what you say you can, if I don’t believe you will handle a critical position with the blameless standard a God-honouring role demands, then I can’t work well with you. (We are all imperfect, there will be doubt and disagreement — we may still function in ministry together, but it won’t be the same.) It may be a language barrier, or cross-cultural misunderstanding, but it may be from more basic and flawed causes that transcend those potential obstacles. Too many ministries have fallen apart due to financial mismanagement or marital infidelity or backstabbing lies, or other forms of deceit and betrayal. It often takes a very long time (if ever) to rebuild that trust — and only by the grace and love of God can that be achieved.

There is nothing quite like working with colleagues who are synchronized with you in spirit, thought and deed — whose understanding of you and your work practices are such that they know what you’re going to say before you say it; they know what your actions will be under a given set of circumstances; they know how you’ll respond to specific requests or criticisms. Let us aim to develop relationships that are open yet resilient, when we can be vulnerable to those around us but still feel loved, respected and valued. We can only do this if our relationships are strengthened with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). By walking closer with God, we too will be bonded closer together, and in turn we can serve God more effectively.

Editorial by Andrew Chan

 



 

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