I could feel it in the air. It was almost visible, but yet unseen. It was the presence of God, and I felt like taking my shoes off.
In a little country church, there was a revival meeting. But it was more than a meeting, it was the drawing of hearts closer to Himself, the sensing of His presence. He was evident in the hearts of His people, their testimonies bearing witness to His kind, gracious, yet mighty working Hand.
I could sense the cohesiveness of the local body, their love for their pastor and his family, and their unflagging devotion to the Lord. It didn't stop when the services were over, either. Each individual I spoke with glowed with the goodness of God, speaking in hushed tones, often with tears, of His kindness to them. I was thankful for every evening spent in fellowship with His people.
It hasn't always been like this, however. When we first began coming to this church a number of years ago, there was a different pastor and family. I've seen it time and again – the church always takes on the flavor of the pastor's family, particularly the pastor's wife. If she is cool and detached, then the whole body will be merely a professional organization. If she enjoys activities, then the whole body will be a social group. But if she truly, deep down loves God and His people, then the whole body will be a loving, caring, living unit…a body, a bride.
Could it be that our relationship with God is strengthened by our relationships with others?
Of course, we begin with God. Everything begins with God, and having a right relationship to Him. But if our interactions amongst the bretheren (or sisters) are purely surfacy and we do not truly build relationships, then we miss out on the tremendous blessings of seeing God work wondrously in the local body as a whole.
The previous pastor's wife of this little country church set the example by coming into church minutes before the service and leaving right after the service. She never took the time to build relationships in the church, hence the people never took the time to build relationships with each other, unless it was a few cliques here or there. Were her relationships outside the church?
We build our relationships somewhere. Either they are amongst God's people, or among the people of the world. Consciously deciding to build relationships in the church creates an iron-sharpening-iron experience, and from that springs a deep, lasting unity.
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." Psalm 133
I long to go barefoot through life, looking for and sensing the presence of God. How desperately we need Him in our churches!
…and in our homes…
Lord Willing, after Kathy has her baby (!!!!), we'll take up the subject of building relationships in the home.