And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you? So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself (Genesis 3:8-10) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). Close relationships are an important part of what I believe the Lord wants to do at Victory Church. Our culture is set up for us to easily go it alone. This is spiritually dangerous. God planned that we strengthen each other.
Relational dysfunction is typified by isolation, facades, pseudo-spirituality, works compensating for closeness with others, fear, manipulation, control, and withdrawal.
Churches as a whole tend to be largely dysfunctional. Doing frequently takes the place of being. The feeling of meeting certain expectations to be excepted looms large. And the generalized idea that something must be wrong with me if I can’t get my act together is a normal pattern of thinking for many.
My heart as a pastor is to break the trend. I want to do church life in such a way that church is a safe place; an oasis of love and care; a place where you are free to be yourself; a place where you can expose yourself without fear of rejection.
That’s a tall order in a culture conditioned with all sorts of expectations surrounding the various parts of life at work, in the home, and in church. Adam started all this relational separation and fear when he sinned and subsequently hid from God when He came down for some fellowship in the garden one afternoon. The verse above reveals that fear was the root of Adam’s hiding. Sin brings guilt and it’s twin, condemnation. They both foster a deep seated inferiority that manifests in us all.
But we can be free from the fear of relationships. The New Birth and knowing who we are in Christ restores closeness with us and the Father. His unconditional love and forgiveness enable us to look away from our past as though it had never been. And it frees us to be able to share our most intimate thoughts with Him.
The New Birth and knowing who we are in Christ also enables us to be freed from the fear of rejection which keeps walls of separation up between us and others. As we grow in love, fear controls us less and less. You can measure your spiritual growth by looking at how free you are to give your inner heart life and deepest thoughts to the Father. He longs for you to draw close. When you draw close to Him, His love so fills you that it becomes a normal thing to accept others just as they are with unconditional love. Do you allow others to be themselves in your presence, or do you make them feel that they must measure up to your expectations before you will befriend them?
Allow others into your life. Open your heart and your home to fellowship. Share a meal and get to know others better. A great place to start for you may be The Connection meetings that we have every Wednesday night at Victory Church. There we share a meal together, enter into worship, hear a brief Word, and then just talk. Or, get involved in one of our lifegroups which meet twice a month. You’ll find strength and freedom as you open your heart life to other believers.