Alan Knox is my very favourite blogger. He challenges God’s people to rethink the assembling of the church, but he does it with graciousness, fastidious attention to detail and Scripture, and a generous spirit towards other bloggers and commenters following a similar journey. Alan regularly initiates a “chain blog”, where anyone who wants to can post their thoughts on a shared theme. This time, the theme is “real relational unity“.
If I skimmed through the “leadership” section of my local Christian bookstore, I would find lists of the kinds of characteristics people want to see in potential leaders – words like ‘vision’, ‘mission’, ‘competence’, ‘communication skills’, ‘determination’ and ‘can-do attitude’. However, when I look at Paul’s writings about the qualities of spiritual leaders, one of the stand-out features to look for is relational unity in the home. Paul strongly urges Timothy and Titus to look for strong marriages and families in potential leaders (1 Tim 3:2-12, Titus 1:5-9), saying “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”
A harmonious home life is not something you usually see in a job description – in fact, you probably wouldn’t be legally allowed to include it these days! However, there’s a good reason Paul valued it so highly. Jesus left very few specific instructions for his church, but nearly all of them revolve around the theme of loving one another. The church is supposed to be characterised by real relational unity. This is how the world will know we are his followers – if we love one another. Love was Jesus’ core business. It was his service delivery model, his strategy for saving the world. He summed up God’s laws into two commandments – and both of them begin with “love”.
I’m a big believer in love. I long to pour my life out in serving others in love, as Jesus did. But, the older I get, the more I realise that I can only give out of my abundance. I can only be relationally generous when I am relationally secure. Luckily, God has blessed me with family relationships to fill my deep emotional needs, and give me the energy I need to spread God’s love to my church family, my neighbours, and the people who cross my path each day. I get amazing strength from my husband, who has loved and adored me for more than 20 years, and from my sister, who generously showers me with words of encouragement and support. Not everyone has the luxury of belonging to a believing family, and many need to seek spiritual mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children to connect with and find real relational unity with.
Ironically, the best relationships I have are also the hardest, and the most in need of constant work and nurturing. Those closest to me are most likely to trigger my sensitive fears and pain. My amazing husband and my four beautiful children are the ones most likely to encounter my wrath, my anger and my selfishness, especially when I am tired, needy or vulnerable. They are the ones I have wounded with my sharp tongue, my critical spirit. Just yesterday morning, I accidentally hurt my husband’s feelings with the way I spoke to him, and he unintentionally hurt me back. We needed to confess and forgive later that day. These are not relationships I can take for granted or ignore – I have to be purposeful and intentional to make them work well.
If you are in any kind of ministry, and don’t have relational unity at home, prioritise it; pray for it and work at it. It is your greatest resource. If you do have relational unity, don’t take it for granted. Keep working at it. The love you share together as a family will spill into your relationships outside of the home and create the real relational unity that the world longs for.
If you’d like to write a blog post on the theme of “real relational unity”, here are the rules…
Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both on this post and the other link posts in the chain).
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.
“Links” in the “Real Relational Unity” chain blog:
- “Chain Blog: Real Relational Unity” by Alan
- “The Treasure of Unity ‘in’ our Relationships” by Jim
- “So The World May Know – Observations on the Road to Unity” by Christopher
- “Christian Unity – What it is and What it’s not” by Nathan
- “Steps to Relational Unity” by Randi
- “Learn to Live or Live to Learn” by Greg
- “The Limits on Unity” by Arthur
- “Joints of Supply” by David
- “Some Examples of Real Relational Unity” by Alan
- “An example of relational unity” by Greg
- “Relational unity begins at home” by Kathleen
Who will write the next link post in the chain?