19 Days Down! 21 Days to Go!
Today’s chapter continues from yesterday while getting deeper into the idea of community and creating authentic relationships. Today’s chapter definately felt like a mini-sermon as I enjoyed many of his points but by the time I finished the chapter I felt the other side of sermons…conviction 😦
The main point of today’s chapter is “Community requires commitment.” While writing, I thought about how when I was in high school and college a common dislike was “fake people.” I also remember hearing those words so much along with phrases like “I can’t stand fake people,” and, “she’s so fake!” Well…this chapter talks about fake fellowship versus authentic fellowship and full disclosure…I have been guilty of fake fellowship. To help believers move from fake to authentic fellowship Rev. Warren shares characteristics of authentic fellowship.
Conflict is Necessary to Get to Authentic Fellowship
The above statement sounds weird and when I read it was like, “say it ain’t so,” as I dislike conflict with a passion! But what Rev. Warren shares here makes sense. It is through conflict that people let down barriers and crucial information is gained that is needed for an authentic relationship to thrive.
When I think back to my childhood friendships some of my closet relationships were close because there was a conflict that we worked through. For example, one of my college best friends…we went through a rough patch but I know that the chances of us being friends forever is greater because I know that due to that conflict and working through it that I love her as well as like her and I am willing to stick by her through the good and the bad because she means that much to me. Rev. Warren uncovers that:
Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other. When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other by facing and resolving our differences. The Bible says, “In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery [Proverbs 28:23 NLT].
Weirdness and Gossip
Anyone who has read this blog long enough and anyone who gets to know me well knows that I’m special 🙂 I’m a former Nsync fanatic, big sports fan and I speak several languages among other things however, what is stressed upon in this chapter is:
In a family, acceptance isn’t based on how smart or beautiful or talented you are. It’s based on the fact that we belong to each other. We defend and protect family…The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We’re family.
So no matter how weird I am or how weird you are we are family and we need to find a way to communicate and formulate an authentic fellowship relationship. Now my authentic fellowship relationship may be different with a Lakers fan (gosh my pastor is one of those 😦 I’m glad I loved him before I found out because…well…I can’t stand the Lakers) than with a fellow Celtics fan but the goal is still working towards an authentic fellowship relationship so maybe I have to argue with a Lakers fan about how horrible the franchise is, how fair weather the fans are and how there needs to be a Barry Bonds asterisk next to the 2002 Western Conference Finals but once we get through that conflict we can move towards our authentic fellowship relationship 😉
Now on the other side of this situation is gossip…gossip will not help the building of authentic fellowship. In fact its the anti-serum to authenticity.
God hates gossip, especially when it is thinly disguised as a “prayer request” for someone else. God says, “Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships [Matthew 7:5 NLT].” Gossip always causes hurt and divisions, and it destroys fellowship, and God is very clear that we are to confront those who cause division among Christians.
I admit I used to like gossip and I still watch Gossip Girl but in the last few years I have stepped away from it. Its one of the reasons why I stopped watching a lot of reality TV because it seemed like gossip was a big part of many of these shows and I stopped going to the celebrity gossip sites. Gossip is not productive and many times it is not proven so its basically legal slander. If you participate in it or read it…just say no! No to the gossip on TV and the gossip in your day to day life (Full disclosure sometimes I still pick up and read an OK or some other similar mag while waiting in line in the grocery store but my consumption of gossip is down 97.99% :))
Biblical Fellowship Yields Authentic Fellowship
This quote speaks for itself:
The nine characteristics of biblical fellowship: We will share our true feelings (authenticity), encourage each other (mutuality), support each other (sympathy), forgive each other (mercy), speak the truth in love (honesty), admit our weakness (humility), respect our differences (courtesy), not gossip (confidentiality), and make group a priority (frequency).
Today’s Question to Consider is, “How can I help cultivate today the characteristics of real community in my small group and my church?” And well this question is where my conviction about what was shared today hit. My answer to this question explains this conviction:
I can get back in the game! I’ve been a member of my church since I started school and I love my church but I admit I have had trouble connecting with members around my age, my small group. In part it is because I am in school and I am trying to balance that with everything else — I have stepped back from a lot of my relationships because of school. Anyway, since starting school I have realized that this is my normal and that if I want anything beyond my PhD in my life I have to make it work within these parameters! Hence, the get back in the game comment. For the church at large, I can do more to cultivate relationships with people that I connect with. There is one woman I met at the new members program we had at my church and we have been saying ever since that we need to do lunch and we have yet to do it. We did get close a few weeks back though but making this happen would assist me in formulating authentic fellowship with the people in my church. Finally, I can also think about how I may come off as unapproachable by others around me in my small groups and my church and take that into consideration as I reach out.