Summary: In order to build effective relationships, there must be a desire to be close. This is what drives every good relations, friendship, marriage, and devotion to God.

Premise: Relationships are the most important things in life. They connect people in ways allow us to express God’s love through taking our mind off of ourselves. However, in order to build effective relationships, there must be a desire to be close. This is what drives every good relations, friendship, marriage, and devotion to God.

Ephesians 4:1-3

4:1: I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called,

4:2: with all lowliness and humility, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love;

4:3: being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I. Introduction

a. Illustration of Close/Far Relationship

b. Distance relationships can never match close relationships

c. Changing Seats

II. Why do we live in distant relationships?

a. Distant relationships are easy – they require almost no effort

b. Distant relationships are safe – they keep us far enough away to not be hurt

c. Distant relationships are quick – we don’t have to make time for anyone

d. Distant relationships remove accountibility – they allow us to live life without anyone asking questions or knowing our problems

e. Distant relationships remove responsibility – for being as example and for sharing Christ.

III. What is required for a close relationship?

a. Proximity – Physical closeness allows us to interact with others. It forces us to make a choice to connect or to remain in an uncomfortable state of disconnection. Jesus said ‘GO preach the Gospel’, which commands us to be close to the people we are witnessing to.

b. Responsibility – We must understand the command of God’s word to share His love and to be bold. Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled. They recognized that they had been with Jesus.” We must express ourselves so that people can recognize Christ in us

c. Compassion – We must love people around us enough to know that THEY need the connection. This is not about shoving the Gospel down their throats, it is about creating a bod that allows for the Gospel to be preached and an impact made

d. Accountibility – All of us need to have people around us that force us to stop thinking about ourselves. SELFISHNESS and PRIDE are the two sins that lead to everything else. If you are not accountable and forced to interact with the lives, needs, thoughts, and victories of others, you will be forced into a state of self-focus.

e. Need – We need others. We need to be around people. Uncomfortable feelings or shyness are a result of internally-focused pride and keep us from connecting with others.

IV. Conclusion

a. In order to fulfill the will of God and to grow our church into a place where the the Spirit of God dwells (even that requires proximity), we need to build closeness

b. We MUST talk together, sit together, pray together, learn together, and laugh together.

c. We must teach our children that close relationships can be found in the church, instead of allow them to develop these relationships with the wrong people.

d. We must keep our guard up against “crawling” out of the church – sitting further and further from everyone until it is easy to leave without anyone noticing.

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