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It’s All About Relationships, Revisited – Blog & Podcast

August 3, 2018

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Being that this blog is entitled “It’s All About Relationships”, I believe it’s important that every few months we get back to the basics of what that represents. On a summer night in 2011 my life and ministry was transformed by the awareness God brought me through a title to a chapter of a book (Transformational Discipleship) that was entitled “Relationally Intentional”. I was struck by the concept that a big part of our purpose on earth is to intentionally begin and build Kingdom relationships. That is, relationships for the purpose of strengthening others, and our own, relationships with Christ. As I began to weep, God began to reveal to me, what I would come to embrace as the five basic relationships of every Christian life. It is paramount that we, as believers, be intentional relationship builders.

I was in a group of pastors recently assisting a brother pastor with his doctoral dissertation by answering some questions in regard to revival and church revitalization. Following our discussion, one of the brothers asked him to reveal what data he had discovered about common factors in churches that have experienced long periods of revival and revitalization. After all, many churches are either plateaued or declining.

His research revealed that churches who had experienced longer periods of revitalization or revival, say 8 to 10 years, that there were some common factors. They experienced increased attendance, giving increased and was more stable,  and those churches baptized at least 10% of their active attendance over a period of years. Then he revealed that the most telling factor in long-term revival or revitalization of a church is this…sustained intentional, personal discipleship. That is, one on one or small groups or two or three in personal discipleship. In other words, intentionally building Kingdom relationships.

Back to my original point, let me briefly outline for you the five fundamental relationships for the believer and underscore the need for “intentionality” in each.

  1. Relationship level 1 – God to man – No man initiates a relationship with God on His own. God intentionally initiates a relationship with us, we simply respond and repeat it with others. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you”. We are nothing, we have nothing, without God’s intentionality in initiating relationship with us.
  2. Relationship level 2 – Man back to God – Once God initiates that relationship, we have the opportunity to respond, and receive permanency of that relationship. I John 4:15 says, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God.” We confess Jesus as the Christ, as Savior and Lord, and our relationship is secured.
  3. Relationship level 3 – Man to man – Once that relationship is secured, we are called to replicate that to others. Initiating relationships with others that share the love of Christ that we have received. It’s clear that our purpose as believers is to make disciples. The Word states it and the data backs it up. I John 4:11 says, “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” After all, someone invited me, someone invited you, to come and learn about Jesus.
  4. Relationship level 4 – Man to church – Man cannot live the Christian life obediently apart from a relationship to the local church. There are too many principles, particularly in the New Testament, which only truly make sense in community, that being the local church. Romans 12:5 states, “In the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” The best way to live that out is in the community of the local church.
  5. Relationship level 5 – Man to organization – All of us are involved with entities like work, school, shopping in the marketplace, athletic teams, musical groups, clubs, political and governmental organizations, etc. We don’t have a relationship to a building or to a title, but we do have a relationship to people, therefore we have a relationship to an organization. Ephesians 5:1 states, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children”. What did God do but send His Son Jesus Christ to initiate relationships with saint and sinner alike. He did business as a carpenter, He had friends, He walked among people, initiating relationships and responding in love to needs that were presented to Him.

The path to changing the world is simple…it’s one Kingdom relationship at a time. Let us not limit our Kingdom potential by believing the lie that, as believers, we don’t have what it takes to be Kingdom relationship builders. We have the Holy Spirit, our teacher, refuge, comforter, who will be our words and will reveal truth through our words and actions. Who can YOU invite to your church this week? Who can YOU intentionally invest God’s love in this week? It’s the way we were created to live.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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