Training as Christians in Ordinary Life: Nurturing Relationship

If we take a look at the New Testament images of the church (body, building, and bride for example), some key characteristics stand out.  One of the most powerful is relationship.  Not that sort of fickle relationship seen in middle school crushes, but a deep, hardwired relationship.  We are necessarily related to Jesus and to one another.

Even so, the security of these two relationships does not eliminate the destructive effects of neglect.  Our relationship with one another [1] must be nurtured.  Allow me to suggest a few areas for action.

Connection. “Connection” is defined as “a relationship or association of thought.” [2] Acknowledging and understanding this relationship is basic.  Investing effort in studying the images of the church and the “one anothers” and allowing God to use his truth to transform our hearts will go a long way to understanding.  But true transformation does not stop at the heart.

Once we understand our connectedness, being and behaving must follow, for connection is not a mere acknowledgment, but an action in time and space.  For those somewhat lacking in relational skills (like me), make an effort to learn from fellow believers over meals, at small group, or over coffee during Sunday patio time.  Add relational skills to the hardwired relational connections.

Care. “Care” is defined as “regard coming from desire or esteem.”  It is at first a tending of the heart.  Humans naturally care for those they esteem or desire.  But in the church this care has a different spin: believers are expected to care for those whom God desires and esteems. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).  So, care is not a reaction to emotions; it is a response to God’s decided love–a response that must put on flesh.

Genuine positive regard is a good thing; enacted genuine positive regard is better.  We are responsible to actively care for one another and to help one another do so.  We can help one another by openly focusing on God’s regard for his children and away from our own emotional preferences.  We can help one another by focusing on actions in time and space that put flesh on the heart attitude.

Contact. “Contact” is defined as “a union or junction of body surfaces.”  I am reminded of the infants in the orphanages of Romania who suffered from failure to thrive because they were rarely if ever touched.  There is something that happens in presence and skin-to-skin contact that does not happen any other way.  We see this in Jesus’ ministry, touching lepers, holding children, and allowing the “sinful woman” to touch his feet.  Mental contact is insufficient, for despite the power and usefulness of social media tools, email, or even snail mail, there is nothing quite like a relaxed conversation over cups of coffee.  In the midst of our often too busy lives, we must make time to gather and must create opportunities for others.

Now, lest any reader think I proclaim these things from some lofty position, a bit of confession is in order: nurturing relationship may be my biggest growth area.  I’ve made progress, but the Spirit in me regularly reminds me that I’ve many miles of obedience to go.  So, I write this for me as much–or more than–for you.  I know from my own failures how important this is.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge ith self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

2 Peter 1:5-7

[1] I shall leave our relationship with God for another post.
[2] All definitions are from
Merriam-Webster 7.0 for Windows Mobile, (c) 2004-2007.

About Laura

My name is Laura and I am on a journey, pondering the implications of God's glorious design of humanity and integrating every aspects of this design into a description of whole life health.
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One Response to Training as Christians in Ordinary Life: Nurturing Relationship

  1. chad says:

    I find in my neighborhood that the people who are used to being left out can sometimes not handle people simply caring about them. Usually when they find out I am a local minister they write me off pretty quick. It takes consistent effort to encourage and build friendships.
    I have also found that it is very worthwhile to pursue relationships with people whose personality may not fit in with you naturally, or folks who function in a different social space. I remember ignoring someone at school for months, and finally deciding to talk with them. That person is now one of my closest friends in the school community.

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