June 28, 2019
Long Distance Relationships | June 28, 2019
I was drawn to the description in the text of the relationship between Paul and the folks who cared for him after his Damascus Road experience. Paul’s arrival was providential. It changed their lives. I know I am tugging on this neighbor thing pretty hard, but sometimes the needs of a neighbor, a newcomer, can invite us into unexpected relationship…one that becomes full and fulfilling.
Read Paul’s words: “It is a good thing to be ardent in doing good, but not just when I am in your presence. Can’t you continue the same concern for both my person and my message when I am away from you that you had when I was with you? Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ’s life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth. Oh, I keep wishing that I was with you. Then I wouldn’t be reduced to this blunt, letter-writing language out of sheer frustration.”
He is frustrated, but also lamenting. How difficult it must have been to sustain Paul’s teaching when he was gone… far away. It is always hard to walk a new way without the source present. It sounds as though the Galatian Church was ‘struggling’ to stay the course. What happens when the relationship changes or goes away? Occasionally, I reflect on the important emphases of our former senior pastors. Some of their teachings are woven into the fabric of my life…but not all of them. Would each of those preachers find me ‘doing it their way?’
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Relationship and neighborliness are two-way streets. How would you describe the interaction and intimacy of the time Paul spent within the Galatian Church community?
- Who are the good neighbors? In what sense?
- How might ‘this blunt, letter-writing language’ be the act of a good neighbor?
Gracious Lord, I give you thanks for my neighbors…past, present and future. Neighbors come bearing gifts if only I can see them. Some gifts are blessings; some are challenges…no matter, you are there. Amen.