Out of the Garden, part four

Yesterday I touched upon the fact that when you dedicate your life to following Jesus, you generally find yourself aligned with like-minded believers who are doing the same. God, knowing that we are relational beings, brings us into relationships with like-minded believers who are working towards the same goals that we are. If you asked me what the greatest blessing I have is, it would easily be my friends and family, the people that God has surrounded me with to do life with and to carry out His mission alongside.

With all that said, today’s verse in Genesis that I wanted to talk about pertains to the same idea, that God doesn’t desire for us to be alone.

Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

From almost the earliest point possible, God decided to bring someone into the life of His new creation of man so that they would have a companion and a helper. And yes, in this instance God was creating a man and wife situation, but the rest of the Bible gives us plenty of examples of beautiful and meaningful friendships and companions as well. David/Jonathan, Elijah/Elisha, Paul/Timothy, Ruth/Naomi, there are many examples of these amazing and uplifting relationships. Some were a mentor and their mentee, some were ministry partners, some were just friends, but all of them worked to enrich the lives of the special people God brought into their lives.

Not too long ago in the young adults class I teach at church, we did a relationship inventory. We looked at the most influential relationships in our lives and asked some tough questions about how healthy they were for us. The goal of the exercise was to define any negative influences we may need to re-evaluate, but I think there’s a lot of wisdom in looking at the positive relationships in your life, too. I’ve found that it’s important to know what role people play in your life. Some people I just teach, some people I’m friends with, some are ministry partners, some are encouragers, and some fall into multiple categories. But there’s a danger to trying to put someone in a position that they’re not meant to hold. If I try to make a ministry partner out of someone God only intends for me to be a teacher to, it’s not going to go well. Likewise, if I try to just teach someone God’s trying to bring alongside me to help with ministry, that’s not going to go well, either. I encourage you to do this regularly, to examine those around you and make sure they’re positioned correctly. Anytime I find relationships strained it’s almost always because I’m trying to get something out of them that’s not meant to come from that relationship. And that creates an imbalance in my life. The walk in the life of a believer takes a lot of focus and it’s hard to do it well when you’re carrying any sort of unbalance.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between those who believe in God, those who follow God, and those who don’t care at all about God. When you read the verse above, you see that men and women are specifically designed to go together. As someone who follows God and believes in the infallible truth and wisdom of the Bible, that’s the only word I need on homosexuality. Man and woman, designed specifically not just so that their bodies work together in perfect harmony to create life, but designed specifically to be of assistance to one another. I believe with my whole heart that the Bible is correct on this. But not everyone believes in the Bible the way that I do.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this situation lately. The military has a lot of rules, right? Someone I know who was in the service told me that you even have to fold your clothes a certain way and if you don’t then you can get in trouble. Currently, as I write this blog, there’s a chair behind me with about six loads of clean laundry piled high atop it. That doesn’t meet military standards, but guess what, I’m not in the military. Even if a military Colonel walked in my room and saw my clothes piled high, they’d have no standing to punish me for it, because I’m not a part of their group. I’m not under his authority, not until the day I sign up and say an oath.

Unbelievers, likewise, aren’t beholden to live the way that the Bible tells us to live. Now please don’t misunderstand, because I don’t want this to get confused with outright tolerance. The difference here is that while the military Colonel has no power over me, God does have power over the unbeliever. Not believing in God doesn’t change the fact that God is real, and not believing in His rules doesn’t mean there’s no consequence for not following them. But guess what? That’s not something I have control over. There’s a fascinating exchange in the Bible where Paul addresses something very similar to this. It’s in a passage about dealing with sin inside the church, but look what Paul says here.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. 13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

So if judging those outside the church isn’t our responsibility, then what is our responsibility toward them? That’s easy. Love them. Tell them about Jesus, but also demonstrate through how we live what a life dedicated to God looks like. If Christians actually practiced what we preached and what the Bible says, there wouldn’t be enough churches to hold all the new converts. We get so concerned with condemning the LGBTQ community that we completely ignore what God actually told us to do to that and any other community out in the world. Love them, tell them about Jesus, demonstrate Jesus to them by how we live. My heart yearns for them, I want nothing more than to help people find their way into the loving arms of the savior. And we as Christians are never going to do that by attacking them and by living joyless lives that are devoid of integrity.
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As I close out today, I just want to encourage believers to cherish the companions that God has brought into your life. They are gifts of the highest order and should be valued as such.  

I love all of you and I hope the week is treating you well so far. If you have any prayer requests or just need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to email me at freejenkins@gmail.com.

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