I often tell people that the kingdom of God is finally all about relationships. The primary relationship is with the king, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then as you love him you learn to respect and love those who also love him.

I realized that again today as I ministered at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California. I met the pastor of Redeemer, Dr. Jim Belcher, via my friend David Bahnsen. I first met David Bahnsen about two-plus years ago because of my dear friend Andrew Sandlin. I met Andrew when he reached out to me and asked me to have lunch with him in Chicago about six years ago.

I have now met several new friends through Redeemer Presbyterian Church and this has led, just to use one example, to my serving on the board of IRD, the Institute for Religion and Democracy. (I am quite sure that more people I have met at Redeemer, even today, will also have a vital role in my life in the months and years ahead, d.v.)

What astounds me, as I ponder this whole subject late on this Sunday evening, is this simple fact—one person loved me, Andrew Sandlin. As a result my life has been profoundly altered through that one friendship. Andrew reached out to me and that has matured into a deep bond. Through this relationship, where jealousy and rivalry have no place, I have made numerous new friends and thus seen the kingdom work in and thorugh my life accordingly.

Never count anyone as unimportant in your life and always give every relationship to the Lord to sanctify it for his purposes. You will be amazed at how he extends his kingdom through these simple acts. People do matter to God! They should matter to us too if we "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness."

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  1. Helen January 15, 2007 at 7:55 am

    This is interesting because I think it explains why writing to one prisoner can be more worthwhile than doing something which will cause information to ‘reach’ several people.
    I think it’s because when you do something one-on-one for/with a person you are entering into some sort of relationship with them. And that adds value which can’t be added any other way.
    I don’t think the church has understood the cost of embracing methods which take information sharing out of a relationship context. In the Bible Paul wrote letters but he clearly longed to visit the people he wrote to. Why? I think it was because he wanted a relationship with them – he didn’t just want to be a stranger who sent them instructions about how to please God. He comes across as _very_ relational – which was one of the surprises to me when I looked carefully at everything in Paul’s letters, not just the ‘How to be a good Christian’ information.
    By using such methods as huge churches and Christian radio and TV (and non-interactive use of the Internet) the church divorces information sharing from relationship. I think there is a huge cost to that which the church has not fully understood.
    I’m glad you wrote this because now I understand why satellite churches which show the sermon on a huge video screen seem like such a bad idea to me. It’s because it proclaims “relationships don’t matter” -since it’s not possible to have a relationship with a person on a screen.
    I don’t understand how the church got to the place where relationships matter so little that people prefer watching someone on a screen to having a person there preaching who can be met and talked with. It’s one thing for church members to choose a good speaker on a screen over a less skilled speaker in person. I can understand that choice. But it’s quite another thing for church leaderships to facilitate that choice against relationship by adding satellite churches which show part/all of the service from the original location on a video screen.
    I have been thinking for a while that seminaries probably underemphasize some things I consider vitally important. I wonder if one of these is ‘the value and importance of relationship’.
    This topic interested me enough I decided to write about ‘the value of relationship’ on my personal blog

  2. John H. Armstrong January 15, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    You have once again addressed a subject very helpfully Helen. I wish that a number of my readers would interact with your comments very seriously. I share these same concerns and increasingly want to make all of my ACT 3 teaching contexts to be as “relational” as possible. I will say more about this in due course, especially via my ACT 3 Weekly articles that readers can get via our Web site at http://www.act3online.com.

  3. Steve Scott January 16, 2007 at 1:50 am

    As somebody who spent well over a year watching the sermon on a screen from another room, I understand what Helen is saying. Our church outgrew its building, and our “overflow” situation was only temporary (a crying newborn baby helped us use this room as well) until we built a new building. It’s good to be back in person.
    But I’m afraid that for much of the church, it’s only a small step into the non-interactive mode. Relationship has already been lost, even in in-person church settings. Many of today’s pastors are not shepherds who know and continually interact with ALL of their sheep. They are “professionals” who deliver lectures with no personal slant. There is no interaction. There is no direct talk to individual sheep during a sermon (I actually like the talking to individuals during a sermon); that wouldn’t make for good radio or third party listening via internet. The sheep sit on their hands with no feedback and everybody leaves right after church. Often churches are big enough to prevent shepherds from knowing their sheep. If you’re in that position to begin with, what’s the loss with going TV?

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