The deciduous trees on our country property stand stark and bare at this time of year. With the lush foliage fallen, the inter-connected network of branches. From the tiniest twig, the frailest branch, to the main trunk all are exposed. The only part still hidden is the root system. Each tree is a vast inter-connected network of tiny passageways that carry life-giving sap to the farthest twig. Nutrients and water rise through the tree by capillary action. In the growth season the nutrients generated in the leaf-factories descend. The capillaries distribute what is necessary throughout each part of the tree. Cut off a twig or branch and that part of the tree dies. Like individual twigs, we humans, were not created to live isolated lives. We need connections with each other; in families, in villages, in towns, and cities. Who can live independent of farmers, pharmacists, doctors, carpenters, plumbers, snow-plow operators, school teachers, and the list goes on and on? Some have tried to live like hermits and become misanthropes, living twisted, selfish, miserable, pessimistic and cynical lives. The church, the body of Christ, by its nature is an inter-connected network of Christ-followers. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.…If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body”(1 Cor. 12:12,15). We can’t imagine a part of our body proclaiming its independence. Each part is absolutely necessary. And so it is in any community, especially in the church. We need each, very, very much. For encouragement. For ideas and inspiration. For prayer. For practical help in time of need. For skills and spiritual gifts. And we often need the challenge we give one another to participate in the extension of the kingdom. Sometimes, we just need each other for fun and fellowship. We often don’t recognize that mutual need. In the church, we may take our relationships for granted without really deepening our common connections. We may pass each other on Sundays, like ships passing in the night. We offer a nod, a hello, a how are you, without really expecting more than a socially acceptable, Good, thank you. In a recent meeting, I asked people to pair off with someone they didn’t know well and find out at least one new thing about each other. They had so much fun chatting, it proved hard to get them to stop. In order for us to bless one another, which includes praying for one another, we need to foster these connections. That requires us to be interested in one other. Are we interested, indifferent, or desirous mainly of sharing our own story? If we give people a chance, we’ll find them very interesting. Let’s be curious about one another—not morbidly so. Let’s listen to one another and encourage one another. And let’s not monopolize any conversation. I’m certainly not claiming by this blog that I’m much of an example. I can be quite happy to stay at home, curl up with a book, or work on my computer. But when I have sought to deepen my understanding of others in our church or community, I have been really surprised and blessed.
(Find out about my country books and suspense novels at http://www.countrywindow.ca)