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How to Develop Authentic Relationships

From the series Love One Another

Are you lonely? Do you go places, perhaps even church, and feel like you just don’t fit in? Join Chip as he explains how you can begin to develop authentic, Godly relationships that can last a lifetime.

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Message Transcript

Why are there so many people desperately hurting and in need of love, and so many others who are so willing and wanting to give love, yet so few who actually get loved?

See, I think that’s accurate. I think we have a pool of need in the body of Christ, that is massive. And I think we have a pool of resources and gift and willingness and love that is overwhelming.

But I think there’s a missing link.  I think a lot of people with needs, and you may be one of them, don’t really get loved or get loved at the level that you need it, because somehow there’s a missing link. And what I want to talk about this morning is the missing link so that real love can occur.

You ask, “Well, what’s the missing link?” I think the missing link is six words. And at first you’ll say, “What?” but bear with me.  Hang in there with me and see if you don’t track with me. The missing link is a little phrase right out of the Bible, out of Romans chapter 12 verse 5, “You are members of one another.”

That’s the missing link. The link, between huge need and incredible resources and willing hearts, is you are members of one another. Not intellectually, not as in, “Oh, yeah, we’re the body of Christ. Oh, yeah, we’re all related to Christ therefore, yes, we’re related to one another in some sort of mystical union in the universal body of Christ.” No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

I’m talking about tangibly, practically, viscerally. We are members of one another. In fact, one translation says, “We belong to each other.” So, here’s my thesis. We’re going to learn how to love one another but here’s the thesis: To fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another, as He loved us, demands that we understand our membership and our function in His supernatural community.

Now, I’m going to let you know why I call it that but when I say, “His supernatural community,” I mean the Church. But the word “Church” is kind of, when you say “Church” you know what your mind comes in? Walls. Buildings. Names. Pastors. That’s not what I’m talking about.

When the word “body of Christ” comes to our minds, I think somehow – very biblical, good term – but somehow it’s grown into this fuzzy, “Yes, we’re the body of Christ.”

What I want you to know is that if you understand who you are in membership, and you understand your function, and if you realize, if we realize we’re a supernatural community, things that we have in common, live life in community, in a supernatural community, it will transform your life in this group.

See, put another way, we can say, “Jesus commands us to love one another.”

But if we don’t know how it occurs, and if we don’t know where it occurs, you know what this whole series will be? It’ll be like some little platitudes. You know? Nice words, “Love each other.” Spiritual, religious, mumbo-jumbo where we kind of warm our hearts a little bit and say, “Yeah, let’s try harder to be nicer.”

That’s not what this is about. This series, I believe, is designed by God, by the living Christ, to move us from a theoretical concept of loving each other to practical, concrete, empowered, supernatural interaction with one another where, on a daily basis, in tangible ways, we move into one another’s life and give and receive love in such a way that we are in awe of who God is.

And I think the key, I think the key, the prerequisite is to grasp your membership and function in God’s supernatural community. So, turn the page, if you will and I want to try and ask and answer a couple questions.

The two questions I’d like to ask and answer is, “What makes it, the Church, a supernatural community?” And then the second I’m going to ask and answer a little later is, “What makes it authentic?” Or how do we function? The first one is doctrinal. The first one, I’m not going to teach Acts 1:1 through 8. I’m not going to teach it, I’m going to highlight it. In just a second I’m going to read it, give you an overview, and I’m deeply indebted to a fellow named Jim Dethmer, it’s one of the best messages I’ve ever heard.

But I want to highlight just the fact that we are in a supernatural community, the doctrine, what’s true of us?

Then I want to spend the majority of our time saying, “If that’s true, how do we function so that those with willing hearts, and those people with desperate needs, can be moved together by the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that deep needs get met, people who need love get loved, and people who give away love have something happen in them that is one of the most wonderful things in the world, God’s hand on you being used to transform other people’s lives?”

So, let’s look together. Just listen right now. I put the text in front of you, you can follow along, but I want you just to listen, Acts 2 is the real beginning of the Church. It explodes on the scene. But Acts chapter 1 verses 1 through 8 is like the prologue.

It’s where Luke, the author, is going to tell his friend, Theophilus, now, “I’m writing this all down and I want you to understand the gist. I want you to get the skinny, I want you to get the behind the scenes so that when Acts 2, like a superstructure, explodes on the scene, you’ll understand that it just didn’t happen. It was planned.”

So just listen, Luke writes, “In my former book, Theophilus,” he’s speaking of the gospel of Luke, “I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day He was taken up to heaven.” So, the gospel of Luke was written, talking about Jesus in His physical body and His ministry there.

Now he goes on, “After giving instruction through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen, after His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs,” or miracles, “that He was alive. He appeared to them for over a period of forty days and He spoke about the kingdom of God.”

So, basically what he is saying so far is, “Now, Theophilus, I want you to get the background and the last book was about Jesus on the earth. This next book I’m writing, it’s a careful study, I’m a historian, and Jesus, after He resurrected, was on the earth for forty days in a resurrection body, and He taught about the kingdom of God. He did miracles, He gave clear instruction, He brought the disciples together that He had chosen, and He gave them a game plan about what He wanted them to do just before He ascended.”

Picking it up now in verse 4, “On one occasion, while He was eating with them he gave them this command, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you heard Me speak about.” He’s preparing them. They need to be equipped.

Reason: “‘For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So, when they met together, they asked Him hearing this, ‘Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?’” Is this the time when it’s all going to happen? Are we going to get our thrones? Are You going to take over the Roman government? Is this, is it, is it, is it, is it? That’s the idea.

He responds, “It is not for you to know the times or the dates that the Father has set by His own authority. But,” verse 8, “you’ll receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Now, he is laying out, he has given the outline of the book, that’s geographically how the book outlines. He has said, “This was Jesus’ game plan when He came back in a resurrected body. He taught about the kingdom of God.”

Then what He did is the disciples wanted to know, “Is this going to fulfill my dreams, my personal agenda?” And He’s going to teach them, “No. I have a different agenda. God’s final culmination of the ages is up to Him. You don’t need to know that. What you need to know is you will have power and you will be My witnesses or My ambassadors to reach the world for Christ. Start where you are at Jerusalem, move out from there: Samaria and Judea.”

And the goal is that this message of the resurrected Christ, fully God, fully man, who died as the sin-bearing atonement, the penalty for sin, has been resurrected and the good news is forgiveness of sin is available to any human being on the planet who would receive and trust in His work on the cross. And He proved it by His resurrection.

Now, that’s the background. Here’s what I want to do. I want to give you three reasons why we live in not a human community, but a supernatural community. Reason number one: It has a supernatural origin. We’re in a supernatural community because it has a supernatural origin.

Let me give you four words to circle. First, the little phrase, “giving instruction”. Second phrase, “chosen”. Third phrase, “convincing proofs”. And the fourth phrase, “period of forty days”. I’d like to suggest that the Church is a supernatural community because it began with a divine command, gave instruction.

In other words, a group of guys didn’t sit around drinking coffee at a café in downtown Jerusalem: “Hey, Pete! What do you think? Jesus is gone.” “Yeah. Rough deal, huh?” “What do you think?  What do you want to do?” “Eh, I don’t want to fish, do you?” “Yeah, I’m sick of fishing.” “Why don’t we start a church?” “Hey! Okay, what’s a church?” “I don’t know, we’ll make it up as we go along. We’ll just tell them the best stuff we can remember Jesus told us, and maybe something good will happen.”

That’s not how it happened! That’s not how it happened! The Church came about because there was a divine command by the resurrected Christ.

The second reason that makes it supernatural: It’s by a chosen group. It wasn’t their idea. Divine command and He chose a special group, a divine selection.

The third thing is it is authenticated by convincing proofs. Divine, supernatural power is what God had started. I mean, these guys were risking their lives to be identified with Christ, the resurrected Christ, means you’re going to get hung up by your thumbs by the Jews and maybe killed by the Romans. He had to do many miracles in that forty days so they would know, “Hey, man, this is for real.”

Fourth, it’s a period of forty days; it was in space-time history. This happened in real time. This isn’t a dream. This isn’t some foggy idea. It happened right there in Jerusalem. If you could go back in a time machine you would see the dust, you would see the people, you could see their eyes, you could have reached in and touched Jesus’ hands. You could have put your hands in His side.

This is not a spiritual kingdom, this is about the risen, resurrected Christ in space-time history, who lived, who demonstrated convincingly for forty days to five hundred witnesses, “The Church that you belong to is a supernatural community because it had a supernatural origin.”

Now, you’re involved in another community that produces something similar. It’s probably the most important community or the most painful community you’ve ever been involved in. It’s called your family, isn’t it?

What makes you a member of your family? We have a common origin, don’t we? See, I want you to get out of and I want to get out of this fuzzy thinking, “We’re the body of Christ, isn’t that cute?”

And I want you to realize that just as you have a common origin with your mother, father, or just mother, or just father, and just as you know in your heart of hearts that if your biological family, even despite all the struggles some of you have been through that there is an obligation to honor them because they brought you into the world.

I want you to know the person sitting next to you, if he’s born again, if he knows Christ, if she knows Christ, you have a common origin.  We have a responsibility to one another. Not in some fuzzy kind of way but in a way that is actually thicker and deeper than blood relationships.

Second observation, it has a supernatural agenda. Did you know what He talked about? The kingdom of God. You know what the kingdom of God is? The kingdom of God is very simply this: It’s when God’s rulership reigns. It’s when God rules and His will is being accomplished. Put another way, it’s when people are rightly related to God, rightly related to one another, and reaching out to people who are outside of kingdom blessing. That’s what the kingdom of God is.

And Jesus said it would move forcefully! He called you and He called me, in faith, to be rightly related to Him. Forgiven. Deposited with the Holy Spirit. And then to be rightly related to one another.

And we, together, put our arms around and say, “God, use us!” That’s the kingdom of God! We have a supernatural agenda. We have a mission! Now, many of you have developed incredibly close bonds in a human community, haven’t you? How many have ever played on a team of any kind?

You’ve been on a team, right? What happens on a team? It could be a jury, it could be a work team, it could be a softball team, it could be a team of women, it could be a team of men, it could be in junior high. I’ll tell you this, some of the closest, deepest relationships I have on the earth are people that I played college or high school or some sort of basketball or baseball with. Why? You got a common agenda.

What do we know from the NFL? Here are these, at times, steroid-filled bodies, three hundred and forty, massive strengths, they separate their shoulder, and what do they say? “I’m just going to tape it up and I’m going to get out there and play.” Why? “Because we’re on a team together. I can’t let the team down.”

You see, when you have an agenda or a mission that is bigger than yourself and you buy into it from your heart, it produces incredible bonds. Hey, we’ve got a mission that’s a lot bigger than winning a Superbowl.

And we put our shoulders together. Now you know what? Guys play in games when they’re hurt. Women play in games when their tired. It means that you put aside other things and you say, “We have a supernatural agenda, we have a supernatural origin, we are a family, we are a team.” And you function like a team.

How do you feel about team members that only show up for the games and never come to practice? If you only come to the games and never come to practice, how much do you usually get to play in the games? Not very much. How apart do you feel of the team? Not very much. Who has the worst attitudes on any team you’ve ever been on? The people on the field or the people sitting on the bench?

I’ve spent my time on the bench. It’s just hard to believe that a coach could be as naïve and moronic to evaluate and think that those other players were actually better than me. I mean, being on the bench was one of the hardest things in my life to have a good attitude as a Christian.

You know where most problems come in churches? People are sitting on the bench; people are sitting on the stands.

People who have unconsciously a consumer mentality, “Feed me. You don’t have this for my children? Oh, you’ve changed hours? Oh, this is going to happen? Well, how come we don’t have donuts with the coffee? It would be nice if we had nametags. You know, it would really be wonderful if we could, you know, it was a little too hot that last weekend. You know, that one song was a little too loud but then next week it was a little too soft. You know…?” Been there, huh? That happens in churches all the time. You know why? They don’t got the agenda. And that was coaching talk, “They don’t got” on purpose.
You know where most problems come in churches? People are sitting on the bench; people are sitting on the stands.

People who have unconsciously a consumer mentality, “Feed me. You don’t have this for my children? Oh, you’ve changed hours? Oh, this is going to happen? Well, how come we don’t have donuts with the coffee? It would be nice if we had nametags. You know, it would really be wonderful if we could, you know, it was a little too hot that last weekend. You know, that one song was a little too loud but then next week it was a little too soft. You know…?” Been there, huh? That happens in churches all the time. You know why? They don’t got the agenda. And that was coaching talk, “They don’t got” on purpose.

Third, the Church is supernatural, not only because it has a supernatural origin, not just because it has a supernatural agenda, but third, it has a supernatural power. Did you see that in verse 8? “Wait for the gift and then you will receive power.” Power. If you’re a believer, you know who lives inside of you? The Holy Spirit.

You know what Romans 8 tells us? The same power that raised Christ, literally, from the dead dwells in you and dwells in me. The power – what? To overcome sin’s power in your life, the power to love people you don’t even like, the power to reach out when you’re tired. The power to align priorities in a way that seems so difficult. The power to trust Him through difficult times, the power to endure when you feel like giving up, the power to be bold and courageous and identify with Christ when you know everyone in the office is going to look down on you afterwards.

You know what the human equivalent is? Gangs. If you go into prison, you know what the likelihood of you being in a gang is? High, high, and higher. You know why? If you go into prison in this day and you’re not in a gang, you may be dead soon. Why? Because you’re one frail person who is vulnerable.

So, what do they do? You join a gang, well what’s a gang do? You’re in the Bloods, or you’re in the Crips, or you’re in the Aryan Brotherhood, or you’re in a Black Muslim group or, … There are all kinds of gangs in prisons. And you either join one of them or you’re a pawn.

See, community offers bonding through teams. Community brings about loyalty through the concept of having power.

On a lighter note, a lot of you are members of Costco, aren’t you? That’s a gang. We call it a club. We’re the Costco gang! Right? Why do that? Why don’t you just go and buy someplace else? Because there is power in buying bulk. And there’s… isn’t there? And there’s power in membership.

The human institutions that provide community are precious to us. There’s probably nothing more important than your family, some sense of team, and some sense of club somewhere.

Those are the human institutions where you’re giving and receiving where there has been power, where there is loyalty, where there is commitment. Here’s what I want you to hear: It’s just human.

You, if you’re a believer, are a member of a supernatural community, with a supernatural origin, with a supernatural agenda, and you possess supernatural power. If you get that from your head to your heart, you’ll never think about Christians the same way ever again! Ever! Ever! Ever!

We’re in the same family. We have the same agenda. We have the same power.” You are members. Notice the passage doesn’t say, “You ought to be.” You are members of one another. You belong.

Now here’s the final thought: That’s the doctrine, that’s the truth. But we would all admit, right, we would all admit that we are not experiencing supernatural community in our relationships like most of us would like.

Now, we’re tasting it, I pray. And the closer you are to that core, the deeper you’re probably experiencing it. But I want to give you now, from Romans chapter 3 verses 3 to 5, I want you to know what makes it authentic. How do you get in the body of Christ so you experience community? It’s not just human community.

I mean, it’s one thing to say, “Yeah! Yeah! We came back in the ninth inning and our softball team and we all went out for beers afterwards and boy, isn’t it great to be part of a group?” That has some merit. Not a lot.

Three things you need. First, you can experience authentic community – how? When we possess an accurate view of ourselves. It begins with you; it begins with me. Romans 12:3 says this, “For by the grace given to me,” the apostle Paul writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit, “I say to every one of you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but rather think of yourself with a sober or sound judgment.”

The word literally means, “Don’t think of yourself insanely.” Off balance. Irrationally. But think of yourself, literally, accurately is the idea, “In accordance with the measure of faith that God has given you.” In a word, if you want to experience this kind of community that is supernatural, it begins with humility.

Humility is not thinking highly of yourself, humility is not thinking lowly of yourself. Humility is an accurate view of yourself, it’s a genuine recognition of, “These are my strengths, these are my gifts, this is what I bring to the table, this is my background, this is my personality, this is who I am, my strengths,” and a genuine recognition, “and these are my limitations.”

See, it’s not genuinely humble to be in a group and be able to see clearly what the group needs, know that you’re the best at whatever the group needs, and then put your hands in your pockets, “Well, gosh, you know, I might be willing, I’m not really, I’m not really good at it but I’d try…”

You know what that is? That’s arrogance. That’s false humility. If you know you’re the best then you say, “You know something? I don’t know how this will work exactly but I’ve got some background and experience. I’d like to serve the group by taking this on.”

And humility is, “And these are my limitations. I can’t do that. I’m not good at that.” In fact, recognizing your limitations means that you are willing to be vulnerable. And by the way, that’s where real community starts.

See, arrogance, pride is projecting image that we’ve got it together. Those little holographs that I call them where we project what we think other people will like and if they like it, then we say, “Oh, great.” Except down deep it doesn’t help, does it, because they didn’t really touch us.

Or if they don’t like it we say, “Well, great, because that’s not who I really am.” So, you never get deeply affirmed, don’t get deeply rejected, but you don’t get deeply anything.

See, genuine community starts with being open and vulnerable and saying, “You know what? This is what I bring to the table. I got plusses and I got minuses. Just like everyone else. I’m insecure just like everyone else. I have some baggage just like everyone else. I do some things really well just like everyone else.”

And when you can be open and vulnerable, then you allow people into your life to know the real you and when people affirm the real you, what happens? Bang! Connection. We call it getting loved. And when you reach inside and affirm the real person, boy oh boy, they get loved.

When’s the last time you really let someone inside your life? If you want community, that’s what it takes.

Secondly, authentic community happens when we nurture a healthy appreciation of others. Verse 4 and 5, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we who are many, form one body.”

If you want a great little study, draw one line under all the words that have the concept of plurality and draw two lines under every word that has the idea of unity or singularness.

And what you’ll see is stereo. Many, one; many, one; multiple, singular. See, God has made us, in a word, key word, to be interdependent. See, you have plusses, but your plusses are different than other people’s plusses. Their plusses plug into your minuses. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle that God has created in the body of Christ, the supernatural community.

You don’t have to be everything and you aren’t everything and you can’t do everything and you don’t have to apologize for it. But figure out who you are. And then function in your giftedness. Function where God has you.

By the way, what do we do, the normal way, notice this says, “We nurture healthy appreciation.” What do we do apart from the Spirit? We compare. We walk in, we look at another person, we compare intelligence, we compare weight, we compare cars, we compare dress, we compare kids, we compare how good they are versus how bad we are, right? Compare, compare, compare, compare, where did they get that, dat, dat, dat, dat.

You know what comparison does? It just produces carnality. It just produces carnality. Then we put up images to try and look like we’re better than we really are, so that when they compare themselves with us, and all these games, games, games, games. People don’t get loved when you play games. You don’t need to be anybody else. You need to be you.

You need to appreciate what other people bring to the table and invite them into your life and step into their life and nurture. And so what do you do? You give thanks.

You don’t have to be everything because you’re not. And neither am I. I don’t know about you, I like this one. It kind of takes the pressure off. But you need to figure out how God wired you up so you can function.

Number three, authentic community begins – where? Accurate view of yourself. Two, appreciation, nurturing appreciation for others, what they bring to the table. And three, it’s when we practice a loyal allegiance to one another.

“And each member belongs to all the others.” Belongs! Not should, not ought. This is not a, “Work harder, pull up your bootstraps, start being a better Christian.” It doesn’t say that! This is a fact.

You belong, with all the needs and this is the tip of the iceberg to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to weep with those who weep. You belong. And we belong in yours. We belong to you. In a word, you know what this boils down to? Loyal allegiance? Commitment. Commitment.

We had a lady who was homeless. Homeless and in a wheelchair, in a difficult situation. Very difficult. You know what happened? There are some people. See, this is loyalty. See, it’s one thing to be loyal to people you know, people you like, people you’ve had relationship with. It’s different to be loyal to someone you say, “I don’t know them. Here’s what I know. She’s in the body of Christ.

So, they opened their home and she lived with them, was in the midst of a horrendous situation. And little, by little, by little, by little God restored her marriage, God restored her child to her, and a family just opened their home for two months. You know what I call that? Supernatural community. What God calls that is love. You see, where it all happens is in God’s body, the Church.

Let me ask you three quick application questions before we do a little pondering. And put simply, let me put it to you this way. This is not about, this whole message is not about, “Will you get with it?” Okay? If you’re hearing, “Get with it,” you’re missing it.

This whole message is about the Lord Jesus saying, “I died for you. I died for you. And I knew you had needs and when I walked on the earth and I saw your needs, I reached out with My hands to touch the leper, and I put the salve in the eyes of the blind man, and I had compassion for the woman and I raised her daughter from the dead, and when people were hungry, I said, ‘Bring Me what you have,’ and I fed them all!”

And He meant, the Acts of the Apostles, a better name would be the Acts of the Resurrected Christ through His body – us. And what He’s saying is, you are part of this supernatural community if you understand your origin, your agenda, and the power that you have, if you’re willing to be humble, if you’re willing to be interdependent, and you’re willing to commit to one another out of His power, what He’s saying is, “This is how you get loved when I’m in heaven. This is how it works. You are My body. You belong to one another.”

And so, let me give you three application questions so you can feast upon what you already possess. The first application is that no individual Christian can function effectively by himself or herself.

So, let me ask you, are you a lone ranger out there? Do you feel isolated? Who is your spiritual family? If I said, “Name the top three or four people that you could call at any time, they’re a quality Christian person who knows you, loves you, and cares about your life.”

If you don’t have someone, then you’re not partaking of this supernatural community.

And if you’re here and you don’t know Christ as your Savior, you’re not a part yet of the supernatural community.

But God would say to you, “It’s open for all.” We’re preaching the kingdom. The kingdom is people rightly related to God, rightly related together, reaching out to you, today.

Don’t leave here, today. Ask Jesus to be your Savior. Ask Him to forgive you of your sin. Admit you have need.

And you know what? If God’s speaking to you right now, just forget what I’m saying. You can keep your eyes open or shut them. Right where you’re seated right now, just pray. He’ll hear you. He knows.

Say, “Lord Jesus, come into my life. Oh God, forgive me. I had no idea, I long for community. I long for forgiveness. I’m sinful and I have violated a holy God!” And you have and I have.

The only difference between believers and unbelievers, He’s paid the price for all, some have received the gift, some have not. Which side of that are you on?

The second application: No member of the supernatural community is more or less important than anyone else. You’re part of the team. You need to learn how to function and you say, “But I don’t know where I fit.”

No one is more or less important, we all have a different part, but you got to figure out your part.

And finally, we must get connected in real life relationships if we’re to experience the reality that we are members of one another.

Come, figure out a way. Join a ministry! Do something so we can get connected with you and you with us, so you get loved.

What’s the missing link? Why aren’t more people getting loved? It’s real simple. You got all these needs and you’ve got all these willing people. We need to grasp membership in the supernatural community and discover how we function. And when you do, you’ll never be the same.