I was listening to a science program on the ABC this last weekend, and there was a discussion about researching coming out of Oxford with respect to friendship. Apparently the greatest predictor of a speedy recovery after surgery (or other significant or traumatic events) is the number and quality of friendships a person has. More significant than whether you are a smoker, or a drinker, or anything else. There were also findings about health, and other things that were a result of friendships. And all of this research is only 10-15 years old.
It made me reflect on the fact that the Bible presents people as created for relationship – with God, and with each other. It also points to the problems that sin causes to relationships, and that being transformed through the Spirit of God by faith in Jesus is how that is ultimately able to be overcome.
What we see here is an intersection between Biblical teaching and the results of scientific enquiry.
And yet so many Christians don’t actually see being united to other believers through faith in Jesus as an important thing. They don’t seek to build closer relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ, they resist opening up and trusting others, and sometimes actively distance themselves from other Christians for a variety of reasons.
The reasons I have observed for this are many – saying they have nothing in common with other Christians, reacting to people being too clingy or needy, being unable to set appropriate boundaries, being embarrassed that other Christians don’t fit with their social or professional circles, and so on. But the biggest excuse Christians use for not building friendships with other Christians is that they are too busy.
They are too busy on their career, their jobs, their business, their farm, their kids sports, their sports, or their hobbies to spend any time with other believers. Unless those believers are travelling in the same non-Christian circles they do.
And the biggest of these is work.
Too many Christians put all their effort into their jobs. In fact, they put an increasing amount of time into that. And as a result, have less time for people in their church. Less time for church full stop. Telling themselves it isn’t important, that they can put more effort in later when things get better.
Yet the Bible and Science say that this isn’t the case. To not pursue the connected, relationship driven life God created us for, has negative consequences. It will affect you, and affect you more than almost anything else when things go wrong. No matter how tough, or capable you are.
So think about your life – are you pursuing the things God created you for, and which benefit you? Or are you setting your priorities somewhere else? It doesn’t take all that much effort to connect beyond the superficial level we connect at all too often. So think about what God has created you for, how you can honour and serve Jesus by loving and serving his body, the church – not through filling a spot on a roster, but by loving and extending friendship to other believers.
For your sake, and for His.