For the past few weeks, we’ve been in the sermon series “My City.” This series has really been driving home the third part of our Church motto, “Love God, Love the Church, Love People.” And as we’ve been learning, we can’t take back the city alone. We need partners and our church family to help us succeed.
God knew how much we would need family since Creation.
“Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good (beneficial) for man to be alone; I will make him a helper [one who balances him - a counterpart who is] suitable and complementary for him.” - Genesis 2:18 (AMP)
God wanted people in our lives to help us in our journey. But note that God wanted people who were “complementary” as well. That means He wanted us to be different and special. We were meant to benefit from the different strengths and experience that others possess. That’s a huge part of what makes our church, family.
We were also meant to have different relationships with the people God’s placed in our lives. One of those relationships, is with our leaders and parents, who are older than us and have more experience and wisdom than we do. When we form those friendships, we are able to benefit in many ways.
For one, it’s really comforting when someone has been where you are before and can give you wisdom and encouragements, as well as a bit of course correction so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes. There’s a lot that we can learn from those farther down the road.
And when you’re willing to learn from those ahead of you, and when you ask their advice, did you know that you’re actually fulfilling God’s promise for their lives too?
Romans 8:26-28 (MSG) - “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. He knows us far better than we know ourselves...and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
God promises to take everything in your life and use it for something good. And when we receive advice and note the warnings of the leaders God’s using in our lives, He also uses us to bless them in their moments of transparency by taking their story and using it to transform us and our story!
Another type of relationship we enjoy is with those who are in the same place as we are. Whether it’s the same age, same maturity, or the same battle, having partners to do life with is invaluable.
Last night, Darius used the analogy of working out in the gym during his message. I can totally relate to that. I’ve worked out before, and there’s a big difference in my attitude, outlook, and performance when I do it alone or with other people. When I did it with my friends, it made the pain and the struggle more bearable. We encouraged each other and motivated each other. And even when I was getting tired, to see them still pushing through beside me helped me to go so much farther than if I had done it alone!
In my life I have people who I can open up to, and often times I end up discovering that we’re going through the same thing. And sometimes, neither of us has an immediate solution for each other or ourselves. But just knowing that we’re both in it together is still an encouragement, because now we’re both motivated to help each other find our solutions in God.
These close friendships that we develop shatter the lies that Satan tries to whisper to us that no one understands or that there’s no way to fix things or to move forward. These friends help remind us of the truth when we’re distracted by doubt.
I’ll be perfectly honest, it’s not always easy to open up. Sometimes our struggles can feel to big or maybe too ridiculous. For me, I’ve gone through battles where I really hated crying. I felt like it somehow made me “less mature.” And one night at Mezz I had certain worries that I couldn’t get my mind off of. And when I went to say goodbye to a close friend, I suddenly just started crying. I felt so ridiculous at first. But that friend just hugged me and listened and then they reminded me of the truth. Then they prayed for me and later that week, the prayer was answered which was awesome. But what really meant the most to me during that event was the fact that I now had truth to fight the enemy with when he tried to get me worried about crying. Now I knew that I had a safe place to be totally real. Whether I was joyful, or struggling, I could say so and it was okay.
The other relationships that we’re meant to have are with those that we disciple and bring alongside of us so that we can encourage them and pour into their lives. This relationship brings great blessing but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. To the people that we mentor, we’re their role models. They will imitate how we handle situations in our lives which should drive us to imitate Christ more each day.
The way we live our lives and respond to God can be pretty different when we realize that other people are always paying attention and are influenced by what we say and do. As the oldest of four siblings, I’ve see this happen pretty much every day. My youngest siblings are several years younger than my brother, Chris, and I and since they were little they’ve always wanted to do what we do and be like us. This meant that Chris and I had to start to pay more attention to how we spoke, how we respected our parents, and how we acted when no authority was present. We were always taught by our parents that whatever Christopher and I did, Caitlyn and Carson would do more.
That meant the more we respected God and our parents, the more they would want to. The more positively we spoke, they would use positive words. But we soon learned that there was a flipside to that as well. If Chris and I got sarcastic, suddenly they were repeating those phrases. If we were vocal about a food we didn’t like, they didn’t bother trying for themselves.
The same is true for those who follow our footsteps. The more we get excited about the things of God, the more they will. As they see the fruit of obedience in our lives, they’ll want to produce the same in theirs. As we conquer the struggles and trials that come against us, we can encourage them by showing them that the end result is worth it!
To repeat the great advice that Darius gave in his message, if you’re still trying to cultivate these friendships, the best thing that you can do is to pray. Pray for that future friend. Pray that God will help you grow closer to the friends you have and show you who should be mentoring you, who should be your partner, and who you should be discipling. Get involved in church and other activities like ministry teams and small groups. It’s a really awesome thing to be advancing the Kingdom with other people.
As a final note of encouragement, be yourself. Be the you that God has created you to be. God put you here, at this time, for a specific and wonderful purpose! And He wanted you to live your life and no one else's. Remember that first verse? “I will make him a helper [one who balances him - a counterpart who is] suitable and complementary for him.” God created us equal and unique which means that you’re going to have different strengths, battles, struggles, experiences, and victories. And there will be people around you who will need all of those testimonies and we’ll need theirs.
God has great plans for you and those plans include great friendships. Trust Him, pray for those friends and just wait to see how He’ll bless you!