Sometimes one sentence spoken to you can shift a paradigm and change your life. Last Wednesday, I sensed the Lord speak one sentence to my heart that has set me free from a faulty paradigm that I didn’t even know I was carrying. Even though I was ‘wealthy’ before last Wednesday, the shredding of this false paradigm has opened the doors for me to become even more wealthy than I was before! I want to tell you about this single sentence that I sensed the Lord communicate to me, but before I do that, I need to give you some background.
As I mentioned, I believe true and lasting wealth can only be measured in relational knowledge. I know this might sound a bit pretentious, but I believe I am one of the most wealthy people I know. In my book, a person’s wealth is measured by the quality of relationships one has. Based on this definition of wealth, I believe I am wealthy. My wealth has not come from my own effort, however. My wealth has been given to me as an inheritance.
When the Lord awakens us to the person of Jesus Christ, we enter into a vertical relationship with a person who is the embodiment of love. For most of my Christian life, this relationship was approached from an individualistic standpoint. Although cultivating a quiet devotional life is essential to getting to know the Lord who dwells within our spirit, knowing Christ goes way beyond some super spiritual form of monasticism. A true relational knowledge of Christ involves intimately knowing our brothers and sisters in Christ. This has not always been easy for me, however.
Many years ago, I attended a university to be trained for the professional clergy. During that season, a ‘seed’ was reinforced in my life. This ‘seed’ has functioned like a cancer, negatively affecting all of my relationships. This lie was rooted in an unbiblical understanding of separation and hierarchy.
I was taught that, as a person in clerical church leadership, people would naturally put me up on a pedestal. Regardless if this was right or wrong, this is simply reality. I was also taught that the people I was presiding over would not be able to handle seeing me as a regular ‘lay’ person like them. They would be disappointed and would experience a faith crises. If they saw me for who I was, they may even loose confidence in my leadership, or the church. For these reasons, I was literally taught that there must be a healthy degree of separation between the clergy and laity.
The truth is, this lie didn’t begin in bible college, it began much earlier for me. It’s human nature to make idols out of people. It’s also human nature to place expectations on people without even being consciously aware that we’re doing it. It’s easy to make people into our own constructed image of who we think they should be, or what we may ‘need’ them to be. After a season of getting to know these people, however, we then begin to see their flaws and shortcomings. Who we thought they were, and who we wanted them to be, did not measure up to the reality of what we were seeing. This always has lead to great disappointment for me.
Unfortunately, over the years, I have put many people up on the proverbial ‘pedestal’. Others have also put me up on a pedestal. Sadly, almost all of those relationships are no longer in existence as they ended in great disappointment. As a result, I bought into the lie that ‘familiarity’ is the enemy of relationships. I unconsciously believed the lie that teaches the only way to keep from being disappointed in relationships is to keep people at a distance so they don’t become too ‘familiar’ and lose respect for you. Thankfully, this pattern in my life has begun to change.
Through a miraculous set of circumstances that occurred almost two years ago, I met a brother and sister in Christ whom I immediately had high regard for. Like my wife and I, this couple had also been on a similar journey of discovery of their new identity in Christ outside of the performance based religious system. Like my wife and I, this journey into freedom had not been easy for this particular couple as well. Needless to say, I have admired and respected this couple from the moment I first met them.
These last couple of years, we have had the privilege of being immersed into the life of a New Testament ekklesia. We have had the privilege of getting to know an entire group of people who are also on a journey out of the religious system, and into the reality of life in Christ. Learning to live in community with this group of people has changed me in many ways. For example, learning to see one another through the lens of the Spirit, and not the flesh, has been more profound than I have realized. It has revolutionized and restored my relationships. Let me explain…
Last Wednesday, my wife and I were having coffee with this same couple that I met almost two years ago. This coffee meeting was no big deal as we simply were getting together to talk about taking a possible trip together. In this interaction with them, however, my view of Jesus Christ was greatly expanded.
This couple didn’t say or do anything externally to reveal Christ to me. We were simply drinking coffee and talking. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to express with words why I was so impacted. All I can tell you is that I saw Christ in them expressed in a way that I had not seen before. I was in awe. It affected my whole day. I began to reminisce about the many times I had seen Christ expressed through this particular couple over the last couple of years, and I was stunned at the realization that there was still more of Christ in them that I had never before seen!
Later that evening, I was in a conversation with the Lord marveling about all of this when I suddenly became aware of something profound. I became aware that the trend of ‘familiarity’ being the enemy of relationships was no longer true.
The trend had been reversed!
Although I respected this dear brother and sister when I first met them, I realized that my respect and love for them had grown immensely over the last couple of years. The more familiar I become with them, the more my admiration of them grows. I asked the Lord…
How can this be?
That’s when I sensed the Lord speak one sentence to me that has freed me from a false paradigm that I had unknowingly been carrying for years. Here is a paraphrase of what I heard in my spirit:
In the flesh, familiarity brings contempt, but in the Spirit, familiarity brings adoration.
WOW! What a bomb shell. When I view others through the lens of the Spirit, familiarity brings more love and adoration, not less. I no longer have to be afraid of familiarity. It’s almost too good to be true. We now are free to know and be known.
I’d like to leave you to consider a few introspective questions.
- Do you have a history of having deep satisfying relationships? Why or why not?
- Does being intimately known by others make you uncomfortable?
- Think about your community of relationships. Has your view and respect for them decreased since getting to know them, or increased?
- Are you captivated by the beauty of Christ that you see in your brothers and sisters?
- Which is greater in your eyes, the beauty of Christ that your brothers and sisters express, or their flesh?
- Do you see the light of Christ in all people in your circle of relationships, or just a select few?
- Are you captivated by the beauty of Christ that you see in your brothers & sisters?