3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. 4 Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also. 6 Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
2 Timothy 1:3-7
This neat passage gives us insight into the close relationship Paul had with Timothy. Although there was no human family connection, their relationship was that of father and son. God had given them special life-shaping experiences in the course of their times together. Paul was privileged to be in a group of elders when a prophecy was given forth while praying over Timothy.
So, what does this contribute to our understanding of discipleship? First, we must change how we look at relationships. Jesus taught us about significant relationships in the Kingdom. In Matthew 19:29 and Mark 10:29 He says no one who has left brothers or sisters or mother or father for Him and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age. In John 13:34, He gives His disciples a new command: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
The Kingdom of God is like being a sibling in a multitude of families characterized by sacrificial love for one another. In a sometimes overlooked phrase in Ephesians 1:18, Paul prays “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints….” There is nothing like living in relationship as a child of God!
What does it means to enjoy these riches? Is it simply to go to a weekly meeting or two at a building designated as the church? Is it a weekly zoom meeting where we discuss the Bible and give our opinions on what it means? These do not quite measure up to the level of riches Paul was talking about.
Relationships require time and flourish with shared experiences. The current vehicle we have in the church today is our Life Groups. But without an understanding of the relationships Jesus has for us to experience, they too can just be another activity to attend.
My clearest experience of the family of God has been with short term mission teams, where we prayed together, focused on ministry together, shared our experiences and needs together, and experienced God’s answers to our prayers. As we worked with brothers and sisters of a different language and culture, we experienced the deep love of God for one another. We also saw team members experience the transforming power of God to change their lives. This is a little glimpse of what “the hope of our calling and the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” looks like.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Does this describe your experience of God’s kingdom? Do you have those deep relationships? They require your commitment to other believers. What will you do about it?
- Do not think just because you have joined a Life Group and attend regularly that the objective has been achieved. You are simply in a context to develop Kingdom relationships. The writer of Hebrews 10:24-25 gives a picture of being proactive. Consider how YOU can encourage and stir others up to love and good deeds.
Pray together as a family, asking the Lord to reveal a family in your church with whom you could build a relationship. This may be a family that you know but see an opportunity to grow with, in love and faithfulness to the Lord. Trust the Lord to lead you to the right people.
As He reveals a family to you, decide where to connect, perhaps outside at a park and socially distanced. Involve your children in this decision: maybe plan to Bring-Your-Own-Picnic and break bread together; or if you’re comfortable, invite the family over for dinner. Take the first step together, and the Lord will help you build these Kingdom relationships.