Time to Get Close
I invite you to take a moment to read this passage:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:42-47
As I read these verses I was struck by the closeness of the earliest church. They learned together, hung out together, ate together, prayed together, witnessed miracles together, blessed the poor together, praised God together, and apparently they shared the gospel together because they were growing in size.
What you do not see is a group of individuals who stick to themselves or perhaps a few close friends they’ve given the privilege of allowing into their little bubble. There’s a constant reaching outwards towards others, believer and unbelievers alike, led by the constant desire to minister and to love them. To know them and be known. To love and be loved. No bubbles allowed.
This, my friends, is an introverts worst nightmare. People. People everywhere!
Or maybe not? I’m no introvert, but I happen to enjoy close relationships with many introverts and as I’ve studied these strange creatures I’ve noticed something very peculiar. When you place your introvert in the right circumstances, off to the side and among people they know and trust, introverts will often become quite talkative. And humorous. And insightful! If we would just give them the chance to speak every once in a while they have lots to offer. At the risk of sounding trendy, we need to try and create a space for the introverts among us. The responsibility, however, is not purely on us extroverts. Introverts also need to push themselves to step out of their comfort zones and minister to people. Not to become extroverts! We already have plenty of those! But to minister to people in the quiet way God has designed them for.
This closeness is not just an introverts worst nightmare, it’s a nightmare for those of us who have been hurt in the past by people we’ve let in to our weird and wonderful little worlds. Getting close is risky business. The person you allow into those vulnerable places in your life might fail you. They might betray your dark secrets. They might judge you or ridicule you for your past mistakes. They may even reject you. People are dangerous.
But people, especially those who listen to the Father, love the Son, and who have been gathered into the church by the Holy Spirit, also carry within them the power to heal us. They can encourage us, forgive us, remind us of the gospel when we forget, remind us of who we are in Christ, mentor us, be our friends, and, if Jesus is right, even become our family (Mk. 3:31-35). And who couldn’t use another friend that sticks closer than a brother (Pro. 18:24)? Besides, by signing on to this whole Jesus thing, you signed on to join his body, the church. It isn’t optional for Christians.
Have you closed yourself off to others?
Is there someone you believe the Lord is calling you to open up to?
Are there people the Lord has called you to befriend that you’ve avoided?
When you come to church do you look around and see your family? Do you try to connect with them? If not, why not? What will you do to change this?