Sermon: Pastor Bryon, June 25, 2017
Have you even gotten onto a crowded elevator packed full of strangers? How does it make you feel? I get a little uneasy and my stress level tends to rise a bit. In fact, sometimes when I’m waiting for the door to open to an elevator I get little uneasy knowing elevators can be socially awkward. When the door finally opens, and I step inside, I immediately check the buttons to find my floor, and then I find my place to stand. Even if there’s only one other person inside, two strangers riding the elevator in silence is pretty awkward, wouldn’t you say?
What If, when the elevator door opens, everyone inside was good friends instead of strangers? I’d probably feel at peace and even joy as I stepped inside. I’d be engaging, maybe joking with certain ones and making eye contact.
Let’s take it one more step, as the elevator door opens; we notice it is full of good friends. However, we notice there’s one person in the back who we recently had a heated disagreement with that hasn’t been resolved. What type of feelings does this induce? For me, the feelings may be very similar to that of the first scenario, where everyone was a stranger. Although everyone else is a friend, I probably wouldn’t feel at peace, and I wouldn’t be as engaging and talkative.
Why do we react like this? Why does conflict and even strangers make us feel so uneasy?
God created us to be in relationships with one another (Gen. 2:18), and it goes against our nature to be out of relationship. When social situations arise where, we either aren’t engaging in an ongoing relationship, or actively working on a new one, it creates uneasy feelings inside.
Have you ever been on an elevator and stranger strikes up a conversation with you? Your first feelings may be, I don’t want to be bothered, or you may be on guard against unsafe people. But doesn’t it seem to relieve some of the tension in the elevator? I’ve had times when I stepped off the elevator smiling because I had a pleasant encounter with a stranger.
There’s no doubt new relationships can be challenging. Past relationships and bad experiences may have put us on guard, or you may have led a sheltered life and just haven’t developed your social skills.
To build a healthy church we need to actively and purposefully work on building healthy relationships. God commands us that we are to love God and love people (Mat. 22: 36-39). That means we have to put ourselves out there and get close to folks, even when we don’t feel like it.
What the formula for a healthy relationship?
Healthy relationships possess certain characteristics which help it to be healthy. Here is a list of some of those characteristics we need in order to thrive in a relationship.
What are your top five must have characteristics in a healthy relationship?
For any relationship to work we must have trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
How do we get to trust in a relationship?
Dignity + Respect + Honesty = Trust
Take any of the above 4 characteristics away and you lose an essential aspect needed for a healthy relationship.
Have you ever had someone be brutally honest with you about something and it hurt you? Honesty alone doesn’t build trust. When I know the person being honest with me is doing it out of love and they are being respectful of my feelings and treating me with dignity, I can accept their honesty.
As we actively and purposely work to build healthy relationships we need to keep three things in mind.
- Always treat people with dignity and respect
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:2-3)
- Be honest with people
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Eph. 4:25)
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood (listen first)
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (Jam. 1:19)