I sat across the table from a well-seasoned man of God. His hoary head revealing that wisdom had been accrued through years of experience and his bright eyes glistening with the fact that he had seen some things. He had served God longer than I had been alive.
The dinner was arranged by a third brother who was a mutual acquaintance and thought it would be good if the elder brother and I connected. Listen, I am always open to sit at the feet of an elder, wiser man who has walked with God. Most younger brothers don’t understand the benefit and blessing that such an opportunity affords them. I was raised that way. There is NO doubt that, in my lifetime, I have spent more time sitting in a room with older brothers and sisters just listening to them expound the Ways of God and His glory than doing anything else; even watching football on television.
As I sat with this particular brother and we got beyond the small talk, I felt an uneasiness. Our conversation quickly diverted to the old, “what- you-got-going-for-Jesus?” performance talk. I don’t particularly enjoy that level of communicative exchange because there is always an underlying attempt to bring comparison between brothers into the equation and a search for significance that, in my opinion, is not healthy. Examining what we have done lately for Jesus doesn’t really create an environment for a deep, meaningful spiritual connection. At the very best, that line of conversation might uncover what we would consider a righteous cause for us to co-join and, at the worst, usually can result in recruitment into a network, access to “covering” or some other non-biblical substitute for genuine relationship.
Seeing what was taking place and what was at stake, I immediately revealed that I was the “lesser” and he was the “greater” in this conversation. I wasn’t employing a subversive tactic of spiritual jiu jitsu. I had a genuine desire to honor this man and listen to him. If Father meant for there to be a connection, the least I could do was position myself accurately and give the Holy Spirit room to work. So, I did what I have learned to do. I started questioning the elder brother about his origin and journey in Christ.
You see, I’ve learned over the years, if there is going to be any type of meaningful connection, it will be based upon, united in and propelled through Christ. Christ is the basis for UNITY! Nothing else added or subtracted. You can tell quite a bit by how someone answers meaningful questions. If they are uncomfortable in expressing Christ in the moments of their life that really matter, they will systematically answer the questions by talking about things they have seen, done, accomplished or experiences that validate themselves. While they may be dear brothers/sisters, there really isn’t an opening in those instances for a deeper connection.
However, if there is a security and identity in Christ residing in them, there will be a transparency that allows you to see through them and discern Christ in them. Again, I’m not speaking of something mystical here. Christ is real. He has the ability to be tangible in the lives of His People. Perhaps, we are so accustom to the superficiality of religiosity that we have come to expect it as the norm. I mean, sitting behind people staring at the back of their heads for years while the “worship service” happens is quite different than being face-to-face with someone and searching for the glory of Christ in them.
As I began to question the sage before me, I took him back to his childhood and how he was raised. It matters. What did he learn about God in his home? I asked about his initial conversion and the circumstances around it. What was the first thing he ever heard God speak to him individually and how did it occur? When was his faith violated and called into question? How was he called into ministry? Things along that line.
It’s amazing how the tone of the conversation changed. The elder brother was at ease and life just began to flow freely. HE was in the midst of us now. I could see Him in the hoary head and the bright eyes. I could hear Him now in the words being spoken by this precious brother and pearls of wisdom began falling like raindrops. I could see beyond who this brother was presenting himself to be and actually see who he was in Christ!
Then, it truly happened! A connection. He, in turn, asked me a question.
“Is God speaking to you to tell me something?” I smiled.
Up to that point, I had only heard the Spirit’s voice through the wisdom he had shared from his life. But, now, I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit to tell this brother about Father. So, I did. I talked to this precious, elderly man, full of wisdom and grace, about God who is his Father. As I did, tears began to flow from his eyes.
When I finished, he asked me another question. “Can I give you a hug?”
I simply stood up and extended my arms. Yes. Right there in the restaurant.
As we embraced, this precious brother was crying and heaving. Broken, he buried his head into my chest and blurted, “I’m 72 years old……and……I’ve never known God as my Father!”
There we stood. Both crying. Receiving Father’s love and receiving one another. There was no jockeying for position or dominance. A connection had been formed and revealed that continues to produce life and purpose in the Kingdom to this day and, I believe, for eternity!
Genuine connections are vital to the Body of Christ. Joints are meant to supply what the Body has need of in order to build itself up in love. Joints are connections and they must be formed and discovered so that Christ can be transacted in/through the Body. There will be no meaningful, world-changing, God-glorifying expression of Christ externally through the Body of Christ until accurate internal configuration and expression occurs within the Body of Christ.
We can keep singing, praying and preaching the way we’ve always done it…………..and we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten. Or, we can get beyond the superficiality of religious orders and pay the price of transparency so that Christ can be exchanged and formed in His Body and then expressed effectively into the earth. It is Father’s intention that we become Christ’s body, the church, moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
I hope this experience encourages you and compels you to keep searching, praying and believing for these types of connections in your own life. If we are willing, Father is faithful to bring them to pass!
Keep your peace!