The first thing we need to do is understand what relationship is. Many actually do not know how to relate with people, many also take it for granted because they do it instinctively but the fact remains that our modernizing world is fast edging relationship out of our consciousness so that relationship is no longer significant.
I have always told my students who want to marry that the only qualification to be a spouse is that one knows how to drink from the heart of the other, be able to be nourished by the intimacy offered by the other, be able to receive the companionship of the other so that our loneliness is reduced even if only a little bit. The most traumatic thing people living in a fallen world, outside of the garden, experience is loneliness, due to the isolation that occurs from being cut off from God! And of course from each other as a consequence of being cut off from God. Many actually sexualize their desires and go to fantasies or pornography or prostitutes when all the time what they are longing for is intimacy to ease the terrible loneliness of isolation. This is mostly aggravated by living in highly congested urban centers where one can be run over by pedestrians on lunch time breaks like New York or Hong Kong, and yet amidst such crowd, there is so much loneliness and then so many suicides. The question is do we know how to relate and if we don’t, are we aware at all that we don’t know how to relate, we are numbed and detached, detached from our hearts, our feelings, from others?
The second question is if we do know that we don’t related and don’t know how, how to we begin it, how do we learn to relate? its actually simple though not easy. to relate, one needs only to learn to enjoy people. its a sad state of affair when we don’t have healthy relationships because the fact is that the way we relate with people (around us) is also the way we relate with God. In short, our spirituality is authenticated by how healthy and robust our relationships are. It’s always a two way street, we must know how to give love as well as to receive love. its not just a one to one thing too. It takes a community to really relate. Bonhoeffer said, we cannot choose who will become part of our community or else we quickly become a cult, full of yes men, sycophants, reinforcing each others mania or pathologies. It is also two ways with God, we need to accept not just good things but also bad things. When we are not defensive, when we are vulnerable, we are willing to be blessed as well as be hurt, when we are like that, vulnerable, we are also inviting and as a result, we are also able to hear and see everything. pag nilalandi tayo ng kasama natin we know, pag ni lo-look down tayo, we also know. we are aware pag nanli-liit tayo. we know what our spouses are saying more than from the words uttered. In fact, words are most often used to hide their meaning but when we learn to hear with our hearts, not just with our ears or preferably, not with our ears, but vulnerably, with our hearts, we can hear everything. and that is the way Jesus was. He said you honor me with your lips but your hearts are far away from me. Also, He said, if you hate someone in your heart you have already committed murder and will go to hell.
But human relationships or intimacy will not build community. it is arrogant and almost saying we can build babel once again and succeed.
Intimacy must be in the context of obedience. Jesus said, who is my mother or my sister or my brother but he who does the will of my father. Here, the question is who belongs to my community, who can join my community? The core of this community is obedience. Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship and it literally means sharing or partaking together of something. What do we share or partake together in our community? It is Jesus, his body, his blood, his words. It is like having a feast and inviting all your friends to come. You sit around the dinner table and eat the food served there. In our community what we serve is Christ.
How do we serve Christ, how do we make Christ real and the core of our community, in what way do we partake of Him as the lechon of our relationship together? It is when we all obey, not just one but all. It is an Olympiad, where all members of the community are competing to obey the father. It is not about knowing the will of the father or knowing about the bible or knowing theology. It is about obeying the will of the father.
Obedience and intimacy are always together. Jesus said, he who obeys My commandment, he it is who loves Me.
The more we obey the more intimate we are with God, the more intimate we are with God, the more we obey.
When we obey, when we all obey, when we are all competing to obey and see who can obey the most, then Christ becomes real in our community and Christ is the one we partake of in our fellowship. Christ has become the literal lechon in our midst. without such Olympiad, there is no community, no Koinonia, no fellowship, no Body.
When we obey Christ, we should become more in love with Jesus. When we are in love with Jesus, the more we will obey him. Many obey Jesus but never reach such level of intimacy or love for Jesus. Jesus eventually becomes only a creed, a dogma. it is cold and legalistic.
But community does not exists for its own sake. The Church is for missions and mission is for the Church!
We don’t have community just for the sake of intimacy or having fellowship but in order to declare God’s presence and Kingdom. The church points to the Kingdom. We can plant a hundred churches but in the end we must ask, how these churches have helped to build the Kingdom.