God is connection and relationship. This is the essence of the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we are made in their image. They made us for connection with them, but while we are still on earth this does not complete our connection needs as humans. The Father created us with need for relationship on earth that includes depth and unity with others.
A battle tactic in war times is to ‘divide and conquer’. In order to defeat the enemy, you divide, confuse and scatter them to gain advantage. In any evil system that prevails in the world, division and isolation are common elements.
In South Africa we have an extremely divided past. Before 1994 we lived under apartheid laws. Apartheid literally means “apartness”. Laws were made that ensured that black and white people were kept separate – to live in separate areas. Black people were not allowed to go to so called ‘white beaches’ or sit in places demarcated for white people’s use. Apartheid was designed to keep people apart from one another – literally to segregate.
Separateness – especially an enforced separateness – breeds confusion, isolation and a sense of profound aloneness. The enemy loves to make us feel alone and lonely because then he can more easily accuse “See, there is no one there for you. You are alone. No one understands. It’s just you who can’t cut it, everyone else can. Why is no one here with you?”
John 17 is Jesus’s beautiful prayer on believer’s behalf for unity. At the time Jesus prayed the prayer, He could have prayed for any number of emerging ministries, there were plenty of works of the early church to pray for! But He didn’t. He prayed over our unity. He prayed over our relationships. He asked for the same level of unity between us that there is between Him and the Father. The presence of unity in Jesus is so powerful that it ushers in belief “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” verse 21. The presence of unity is a demonstration of the Father’s love; verse 23 “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
And yet, how often do we settle for shallow connection? In some ways in these time we’ve lost the art of connection. We generally don’t take the time to write handwritten letters any more, we send an emoji instead. We don’t take the time to pick up the phone and wish a friend happy birthday, we send a quick text. We don’t even linger over meals any more, catching up on the day. Instead we’re inclined to sit in front of the TV.
True connection takes time and intention. Jesus took this time with His disciples. He could have just fed them a meal pill or removed their need for food- they had work to do, they had miracles to perform, they had the Kingdom to bring. Jesus didn’t have long on earth… But, Jesus took His time nurturing His relationships with the Disciples. They had meals. He took time to wash their feet. Jesus valued nurturing connection and relationship over ministry, every single time.
What does connection require?
- Recognise that you are worth connection. Do you truly believe that you are worth connecting deeply with? That you’re worth getting to know on more than just a surface level? Do you have friends you’re daring to journey with more deeply?
- Connection requires courage. Courage to initiate connection when you can see it is missing and when you can see you can be connection for another. Courage to reach out. It’s way easier to simply stay connected to God and stay in the holy bubble. But you won’t grow that way.
- Connection requires stillness and solitude. We need to receive from the Lord in order to be fuelled and impassioned for connection. Jesus did it. We need to too. If we don’t receive from Heaven, connection with others will burn us out.
- Allow yourself to be loved well and to love others well.
- Be humble and vulnerable, these keep our hearts soft to be open to the connections God has set up for us in advance.
We need to spend time with others to know their worth to the Lord. Just like we need to spend time with the Lord to know just how worthy we are to Him.
“Our hope is that no one will find an individual they can elevate, but they will see us all as one… a collective…People are more important than music, art or apparent success. Also, it’s such a joy to know that we’re part of a bigger collective – the Body of Christ.” The Rend Collective.
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