But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). My relationships (or lack thereof) show me where I am spiritually! The two great commandments according to Jesus are to love God and love people (Matthew 22:38-40).While we’re seeking to walk in the Word and walk with God we must also relate well to our friends and associates in the family of God. There’s just no way that I can really be spiritually healthy and not non-relational. The Monk in the monastery is not a true example of godliness. That is a picture of a person doing in the flesh only what God can do by the Holy Spirit through the Word. God never planned that we isolate ourselves from each other. Isolation is the fleshly way to deal with the problems and pressures that life brings. Let me be really frank here and bare my heart. In the circles where the Word is strongly preached, we’ve not done a great job of fostering close, intimate relationships with others. We’ve been involved in functions that bring us together, but we haven’t in a large way sought to become close friends in church settings. I’m seeking to change that here at Victory! We need the Word, we need the Spirit of God witnessing to our spirit, but we also need one another! There’s nothing that can replace the help provided by another caring believer when you’re going through a tough time. Sometimes when pressured you just need a safe environment of faith where you can honestly bare your heart without fear of being stigmatized or rejected. And that’s the kind of atmosphere we need to be involved in with each other. When Peter and John were threatened by the religious leaders to no longer preach in the name of Jesus, they went back to their own company. There they had a place of safety and solace in the storm, and there they could pour out their heart to others and receive strength. They ended up having such a tremendous prayer meeting that the building they were in started to shake with the power of God! I’m going to begin to emphasize getting closer to others in the days to come. Hardship is coming to this planet, and before the rapture it’s probably going to get tougher than it already is! We will need the closeness of relationships with other members of the family of God to keep each other inspired in faith and confidence in God. There are presently two great ways to get involved in closer relationships at Victory. Firstly, by being a very involved volunteer. We have people who are giving many hours of volunteer time in various areas of ministry. In that context, I would encourage those folk to also develop close relationships with those who work with them in the helps ministry. These people will become their support group. Then secondly, we have lifegroups which meet basically two times per month. Let me say that I’m going to be urging the lifegroups to become closer, and to open up for people to really begin to bare their hearts to one another. For these groups to be effective there should be openness and heart talk. We’re going to need this in the days to come. And we need it right now. The human tendency is to substitute rules for relationships. Rules are clean and tidy. Relationships blur the lines at times and can be messy! But we are not robots, and life is fluid. Life is constantly changing and we are evolving into who we are in Christ! We need to learn to love each other through thick and thin, when things are going great, and when things are just plain lousy. God never changes in His love for us. His Word is forever settled in heaven. But we are ever adjusting ourselves as we experience personal change and as life flings towards us its challenges. Get involved in close relationships. Invite others over to your home for a meal and a time of getting to know them. Go to lunch together when you can. Involve yourself in a lifegroup. Open yourself to be loved and love others. Watch the Father change you as you risk being involved in close relationships.