by Sheri Schofield
She was quiet and shy. Her two sons, ages seven and eleven, sat in the pew, glued to their iPhones. I introduced myself and said, “I’m teaching a children’s church class for ages seven to ten. Would your younger son be interested?”
The son looked up briefly and shrugged. “I might come,” he said, and went right back to his game. He never came. Our youth pastor later explained that the boys probably avoided connecting with people because of constantly moving to get away from their abusive father. A few weeks later, I read in the newspaper that the father had violated a restraining order and had been arrested. The mother and her sons disappeared. They wanted to be safe.
Sometimes Christians have similar fears. Having been hurt or offended before, they keep to the fringes of the church, ready to run at the first hint of anything unpleasant.
We know that everyone has their failings, so there can be no perfect relationship. But is it really better to isolate oneself to keep peace of mind? Or is it worth developing strong, Christian friendships and risk possible hurt?
Here in Montana, we have locations where sapphires can be dug by hand. Many people visit these locations to hunt for the beautiful blue gems. They dig up a shovelful of dirt, sift it carefully, then toss it aside if they find no sapphires. Finding a jewel is always exciting! The finder takes the gem to be cut, has it set into jewelry, and treasures it.
At church, we need to make the effort to know and to be known. If we do not, we are not functioning as God designed us to function. He’s gifted us for the purpose of building up others. “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NASB). We are urged not to forsake assembling together, but to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25) and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
We were designed for community. Without it, we could very well doom ourselves to emotional and spiritual poverty.
When we do find a sapphire-friend, we rejoice! Our lives are richer for the relationship. We get to mutually share our joys and sorrows and help each other to be strong in Jesus.
We have something worth sharing with others. Remember the man Jesus delivered from demons in Gerasenes? He wanted to follow Jesus! He wanted to get out of town! But Jesus told him to stay there to tell others what great things God had done for him (Mark 5:2-20). Let’s reach out and share our own unique stories of God-moments with each other. Together we will be built up in the love of Christ and find ways to tune our lives to His. It’s worth the risk.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. . .” Hebrews 10:24, 25 NIV
About the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, will be launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.
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