Over the past several months, I would even say years, there’s been a strong emphasis placed on finding “your people”. Your tribe. The ones you were made to do life with. Discovering what part you were intended to play in the body of Christ, stewarding that part well, and connecting with the adjoining or complimentary parts so that you can be most effective in fulfilling your life’s purpose.
One of my favorite teachers said it this way, “If God made you to be a hand, you need to find an arm to connect with!” That makes perfect sense. I think this focus is wonderful, necessary and good. We were built for relationships, and life is not only more enjoyable when we have meaningful relationships – when it comes to life in the kingdom, that’s actually how it’s meant to function: through a body of many adjoining parts, moving and working together, supplying what every other part needs, helping and complimenting one another for the health, benefit and effectiveness of the whole.
There’s been some great teaching and several books, (many of which I’ve read and learned from) on how to find your tribe. How to know when you’ve met the ones you’re meant to do life with. How to identify what it is you bring to the relationship and what, in turn, you may need to look for in others to complement or draw out what God has placed in you. Wonderful. Again, very needed.
I’d like to add my perspective to this. Because as I think about the most meaningful relationships I’ve ever had in my life, many of which I would have never thought to initiate or cultivate on my own had it not been for a divine introduction, there’s one main thing I would say sets them apart. Jesus said it best:
…“Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward [not only the twelve disciples but all] His adherents, He said, “Here are My mothers and brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:48b-50 AMP
It’s important to point out, in saying this, Jesus didn’t disown or dishonor His biological family. He enlarged the circle – expanded our thinking – to include and almost prioritize spiritual relationships over biological ones. Spirit born relationships over those born simply by blood and water. Heaven over earth. Everlasting over temporal. Relationships that transcend culture, color, gender. And within this family there are resemblances we come to bare by which we can identify one another as brothers… sisters… family. But they’re not resemblances we’re accustomed to seeing in the natural.
According to what Jesus said, in order to identify who His relatives were, the qualifying resemblance He looked for was: obedience. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven.
As I pondered that this morning, I realized, this is essentially what I look for in my closest relationships. Not at the exclusion of others. And not setting this as a “bar” by which all of my relationships must be measured. But I am intentional about making sure I have relationships with people who are marked by obedience. People, who like this group that was sitting with Jesus that day, are interested in learning the ways of God – not just for the sake of learning, but for the purpose of opening up and willingly submitting every area of their lives to His ways. People who are becoming more and more like Him, taking on His resemblance.
I don’t say this in some harsh, legalistic way. I remember growing up in a church where the word “obey” was used like a hammer on the brow of us young children. It was a word that evoked an unhealthy fear, causing us to shrink back in timidity. Even if we weren’t doing anything “wrong” we felt like we were.
Above all, obedience in the kingdom is marked by love.
And love is gentle, kind and patient. It protects, it doesn’t expose in order to shame or fault-find. It doesn’t flaunt itself. It doesn’t have a short fuse. It’s not easily angered. It has a way of pulling us towards it, our trust and hope increasing the closer we get to the source. A truly obedient life – you will always be able to see – is not marked by perfection. But it is marked by a love that seeks to do the will of the Father.
If you want to have some of the most meaningful relationships you could ever experience, relationships that are thicker than blood, then look for people with this kind of heart. But most importantly, look for people with this kind of fruit. Don’t look only on the outside. Look for resemblances that remind you of the Father.
Lastly, just because I loved these two translations, I leave you with the same passage of scripture from Matthew in the Passion Translation and The Message. My prayer for you – for all of us – is that 2018 be a year not just where our relationship circles grows. But may it be a year where we seek for, meet, and come into true meaningful relationships with an even larger circle of true kingdom family.
But Jesus just looked at him and said, “Let me introduce you to my true mother and brothers.” 49 Then gesturing to the disciples gathered around him, he said, “Look closely, for this is my true family.50 When you obey my heavenly Father, that makes you a part of my true family.” (The Passion Translation)
“Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (The Message)