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Summary: Without intentional, spiritual relationships, our love for God can grow cold

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Commitments January 24, 2010

Intentional Relationships

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

In Romania, after communism fell, we in the west became aware of the many orphans there who were basically warehoused in huge orphanages. They were vastly understaffed. So the babies, while they had most of their physical needs looked after – food, shelter and some hygiene, were very seldom picked up and snuggled or played with. Many of them had what doctors aptly call “failure to thrive syndrome.” They may have been many months or sometimes even years old, but they still looked and acted like newborns. What they did not have is family. Or even a sort of surrogate family who would encourage growth. Many people in North America saw these helpless children on the news and decided that they would adopt one.

Christians can be the same – we might be born into new life with Jesus, but if we are left on our own, we can have that same “failure to thrive syndrome” in our spiritual lives.

This is why teaches that it is so important to be adopted into a fully functioning body of believers. Paul,says in Ephesians 4 verse 14,

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

There was never meant to be any “Lone-Ranger” Christians.

THE UN-SOLITARY RELIGION

John Wesley viewed connection to other Christians in community as essential to maintaining faith, growing in spiritual maturity and reaching others with the life-changing good news of Jesus Christ.

Listen to Wesley’s own words on this matter:

“Holy solitaries” is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than “holy adulterers.” The gospel of Christ knows no religion but social, no holiness but social holiness. Faith working by love is the length and breadth and depth and height of Christian perfection.

In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon is talking about the things in life that feel meaningless, or vain. He hits on working alone…

8 There was a man all alone;

he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.

"For whom am I toiling," he asked,

"and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?"

This too is meaningless-

a miserable business!

9 Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their work:

10 If one falls down,

his friend can help him up.

But pity the man who falls

and has no one to help him up!

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

I want to talk about Ecclesiastes 4 9-12 related to spiritual growth

9 Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their work:

If the work of the Christian is to come closer to God, and to serve him through serving others, then that work is best done in the company of others.

One Christian Leader says: “The practical integration of biblical principles and godly practice in most people’s lives is worked out in relationships.”

About 15 years ago I was sitting with my two friends Doug at Christmas time and we were all moaning about how out of shape we had become. We decided then and there that we would do a Triathlon that Summer. We started to meet to run together with on Saturday mornings. The Saturday runs were a great motivation to find time to work out during the rest of the week, and we usually talked about our successes and failures in getting workouts in as we ran. We had good weeks and bad weeks together, but that summer, all three of us signed up and swam, biked and ran the Guelph Lake Triathlon, and we all finished it! I never would have got there without Doug and Doug.

Christian relationships can work the same way were we can come together to encourage each other to keep up the habits and lifestyle that we might never be able to do on our own.

When I feel called by God to do something, I usually tell a friend about that call and my plans to accomplish it. I find that if I just keep it between God and myself, I rely a little too heavily on his mercy and forgiveness and nothing gets done. Just by knowing, and possibly asking how it is going, my friends keep me accountable to the calling of God in my life.

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

10 If one falls down,

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