Our culture teaches that the purpose of having a relationship, whether friendly or romantic, is mostly about my happiness and fulfillment. And when a relationship no longer serves me and my needs? Well, then, they become disposable. I don’t have to work at making them better. I have every right to sever ties and move on to my next conquest. But you see, God calls us to have relationships with more meaning than that. Scripture teaches that our relationships are to be more than commonplace- they are to be radical in their nature and purpose.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I rather enjoy hanging out with friends, goofing off, figuring out some new ways to get in trouble…I mean to have fun. We need those types of relationships. They bring us joy and fulfillment; they remind us that life isn’t all bad. But when God talks about the kind of relationships we should cultivate with other believers, it’s more than just fun and games- these relationships are to have an eternal focus.
That’s what Hebrews 10:23-25 is talking about. We’re supposed to “hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm.” That hope is God! Our relationships are supposed to reflect that hope. The passage goes on to give us three commands regarding other people. Remember, the Bible gives us 59 of these “one another” commands. Having three in this passage means it’s probably pretty important. We are to actively and intentionally think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. We are to not neglect meeting together. And we are to encourage one another. Motivate, meet, and encourage. All with the goal of making each other stronger in faith; of helping them and us to persevere- to stay strong- in our hope and faith in God and His promises.
How many relationships do you have that look like this? I have lots of acquaintances and friends…but meeting, motivating, and encouraging…those are rarer. In fact, they take work. They require that our focus isn’t solely our own interests and desires for fun and goofing off. They require that we start focusing more on the things of God and less on the things of this earth. It means that we have such a strong and deep relationship with another person that we can look at their life and see the ways we can encourage them to be better followers of Christ, that we can motivate them to put others first and do the good and loving things God calls us to do.
You see, having the radical kind of relationship with another person that God calls us to have is tough. It takes time. It takes sacrifice. It takes a willingness to get down and dirty into the details of life. And it also means being willing to have someone speak into your life, to offer you guidance, and maybe even to critique and correct you when you stray from the right path and begin to lose focus and hope.
It takes a lot of courage to have one of these radical relationships. Why? Because it means becoming vulnerable to another person; it means becoming dependent upon another person; it means giving up our own prideful, arrogant desires, and truly seeking after the kinds of life-giving relationships that God created us for.
Truth is, you won’t see any of these types of relationships on T.V. or in the movies. They’re counter-cultural. They take work and sacrifice and commitment. On the surface, committing like that to another person just doesn’t sound fun. But you’ll see, if you’re willing to move past pride and cowardice, that these are exactly the kinds of relationships that we do need. God created us to have deep, meaningful, accountable, radical relationships with other people. God calls us to be accountable to others; to allow others to speak into our lives and bring us healing. So, let’s be radical. Let’s do the work needed to develop a radical relationship with another person. I promise you, you won’t regret it! And you’ll start to find your life more full and joyful, just like God promised!
Sermon Notes for “LWOA: Accountability- Let’s Be Radical” from May 11, 2014
Definition: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions
We are held accountable to God, and we are to hold ourselves accountable to one another
We are called to really intense, radical kinds of relationships
Let’s be radical
What does being radical have to do with accountability?
Definition: relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something
Discipleship is about being changed into Christ’s image
Being radical relates to a change in the fundamental nature of something
When used regarding medical procedures, intended to be completely curative
That’s what God desires with our relationships- for them to be curative, to help fix and realign all the things in us that are un-Christ-like, those less-than-holy things
Confession and prayer are vital for this to happen
But there’s more to it than confession and prayer: Hebrews 10:23-25
The primary concern of author of Hebrews is to see their readers preserver in the faith
In this passage, we see that God calls us to:
Display Christ-like tenderness and affection
Do good works to bless the world
Long for the day when Christ will come and make all things new
Our relationships are crucial to us being able to do this
Through the author of Hebrews, God gives us three commands about our relationships:
Meet together Motivate one another Encourage one another
We need each other, we need to help each other fight the fight of faith
V 24 is just as important for us today: “Let us not neglect meeting together as some people do”
You can’t go through life convinced that you don’t need anyone, or treating others as unimportant
To tell yourself that you can be alone, without meaningful relationships is just not how we were made
Going through life alone is cowardly!
Motivating one another:
Motivate: ‘stir up’, ‘spur on’, ‘urge’, ‘provoke’
We are called to not only be together, but motivate one another
This involves speaking into someone’s life
To motivate them means to know enough about them to help them along on the path they should go
We are to think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works
That involves intentionally thinking about how to motivate another person to godly things
Building them up, not tearing them down; helping to grow their faith not further our agendas
Encouraging one another:
Encouraging means that we are present with them in order to strengthen them with our words
Reminding each other of the fact that what we see and experience isn’t everything; that God is working for our good in everything we experience
All these commands are grounded upon and held together by verse 23
That hope we affirm is that this life isn’t the end; that Christ did everything necessary for us to be saved; that God wants for us to have a full life now; that we are not alone!
Challenge: live radically in your relationships
Live in such a way that a person’s nature is fundamentally affected, that healing and wholeness can happen
These are the kinds of relationships that we are called to develop as Christians, as disciples
They are not easy to build, but they are totally worth it!
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.