Last week I wrote about Immanuel, God with us, and I realized that one of the most significant aspects to our relationship with God is actually being WITH God. Spending time with God, walking with God, talking with God, being with God.
If God chose to make Himself known to mankind by putting on flesh and dwelling with us, doesn’t it only make sense that we, in turn, would make him known to others in a similar fashion?
Dwelling among, being WITH others?
I have learned this in my marriage, in my friendships, with family, even in my neighborhood that the only way to cultivate a relationship is by being with someone. Yes, I can learn about them, I can serve them, I can even stalk them on Facebook (just kidding I don’t do that) but the only way to deepen a friendship is to be with them.
We’ve confused evangelism with talking AT people instead of being WITH people.
This past year, one of the greatest blessings of our lives has been becoming good friends with our neighbors. We didn’t know how hilarious and fun (and wonderful at cooking) they were until we actually spent time with them. They felt sorry for us because we didn’t have cable, so they invited us over to watch a movie. Then one thing led to another and they got us hooked on Downton Abbey and we were there every Sunday watching the show. Next thing you know, we’re walking across the street for dinner, going out to dinner, borrowing tools, kiddie pools, even crow bars for when certain people lock themselves out of their own house after a bike ride. Our friendship with them has been such a blessing, and it all came from spending time with each other.
We have lived across the street from each other for six years, and it wasn’t until we started spending time WITH each other that our friendship grew.
I can remember just days after my dad passed away, a bunch of my friends came over. And they were just WITH me. They sat with me. No one knew what to say, I didn’t even know what to think or feel, but they were there, with me. And I feel bonded to them for life.
The key to building a relationship with God, and then with others, is simply being with them. It’s so simple and yet so hard. It’s time consuming and it’s messy, there’s no formula or road map, it’s availability, it’s commonality, and it’s vulnerability. It’s hard.
My deepest friendships are with people I see and talk to often. They’re people who notice from week to week that I’ve cut my hair, or got a new shirt, or changed some things in my living room, or might be cranky and in need of a nap. They’re around me, with me, enough to know me intimately.
We have to dwell among before we can tell about.
I’ve heard it said that within two years of becoming a Christian, most don’t have any significant relationships with unbelievers. In other words, we’ve stopped being with others who aren’t like us and don’t know Jesus. Is it any wonder that people aren’t coming to know Christ? We have stopped being WITH people. We’ve confused evangelism with talking AT people instead of being WITH people.
God came to Earth to dwell with us. How can we share Christ with others if we’re not with them? We have to dwell among before we can tell about.
God with us.
Us with others.
That’s God design for His mission. Flesh, incarnation, dwelling among, and being with.
Do you spend time with others?
Do you have people who know you, can speak truth into your life, encourage you?
Do you spend time with people outside of Christianity?
Do you dwell among others who don’t know Jesus well enough to talk about Jesus?
What are some ordinary, common ways you can be with people?
Also, a great resource to check out on this topic is a book I read this summer called “Flesh” by Hugh Halter. You can buy it here.
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Image Credit: meenakshi madhavan, Creative Commons