Summary: importance of having relationships where people and God know our names
How many of you have watched the television show, 'Cheers'? For eleven seasons, from 1982 to 1993, Cheers was one of the highest-rated shows on television set in a bar with a mishmash of characters came every day after work: an alcoholic ex-pro baseball playing bartender, know-it-all postman, semi-unemployed accountant/painter/interior decorator, abusive cocktail waitress, and strong independent female manager. This comedy showed us people who care about each other, who accepted one another in spite of their many failings and frailties and idiosyncrasies, people who shared an emotional bond, who were committed to one another. Just listen to the Cheers theme song:
Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.
Isn’t that what we all want? People who care about us? People who are glad when we show up? People who will support us and stand by us in the bad times? People who will accept us instead of criticizing and judging us? People we can just be ourselves around?
I want that. I need that. And so do you. So do we all.
Well, I’ve got good news for you. Good news and bad news. The bad news is that 'Cheers' was pretend. It wasn’t real.
The good news is that it can be real. The good news is that there is a place where that kind of community can and does exist. And that place is the church and In The Garden. That’s the kind of place
• that the church should be,
• the kind of place the church can be,
• the kind of place that Jesus Christ intended His church to be.
You and I know that too often, it’s just the opposite. We have to recognize that when many people think of an accepting, loving, supportive, place to be real, to just be themselves, they are more likely to think of an AA meeting than a church.
But, we want church and In The Garden to become the kind of place where lives are radically changed by the love of God flowing through His people in their relationships with one another. And as we become that kind of a church; the world will notice. When strangers walk through that door, they will sense that something is different here; when they go home, they’ll say, “I want that”. They will want what we have, and eventually we will be able to tell them that what we have isn’t a “what” at all.
It’s not a “what,” it’s a “who”, Jesus Christ, living in us and through us.
A new command I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that
you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
Let’s look at what the Scriptures have to say to us about relationships:
Therefore . . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear
with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the
Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect
unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
What does this tell us? All of us will, at some time, find our fellow humans to be less than ideal. We may not like:
• The way we talk,
• the way we think,
• the way we look,
• the way we eat,
• the way we manage our time.
We could all probably pick out someone in this room and find something about them that we find offensive, irritating, or disagreeable.
So what do we do?
Do we just pretend that they aren’t that way? Do we pretend that it doesn’t bother us?
Relationships are hard, but that’s what makes them interesting. Life is filled with things that bother us and that are problems for us – things we might wish we had answers for. We wish we knew how to deal with “difficult people” to how to deal with emotions such as anger. But relationships can also be very rewarding. What makes them rewarding is working through the difficulties and coming out with a new friend or acquaintance, another child of God.
As you go through life you’re going to find some people simply rub you the wrong way. Some people are just going to be difficult for you to deal with. Maybe they have done something to hurt you – or maybe they continually do things that hurt you – or maybe they don’t do anything specific — but there’s something about them that gets under your skin. How do we deal with those people who rub us the wrong way?