The Power of Relationships
by Charles Simpson
I am fascinated and impressed by people in a business setting who remember my name or something about me. Partly, I’m fascinated because I am not very good at that, but mostly because they show a real interest. I like to do business with people who remember me. Now I realize that it is just good business practice on their part-but it still works with me.
“It is not what you know, but who you know” is a statement that sometimes may be intended in a cynical way, but it also carries a very positive truth. People do go out of their way to serve those that they know and care about. Beside family, our network of friends and associates is our most valuable asset.
I took note of President Bush’s cabinet choices. Several of them were people with whom he had a close personal relationship. And why not? His relationships have taught him about their gifts and ability to work with others. They have come to power in part because of proven relationships. He also values loyalty in those around him. Loyalty is good and godly.
THE PERSONAL SAVIOR
Our world has become increasingly impersonal. The very size of government, corporations, cities, and yes, even churches, have moved people more and more toward institutions and bureaucracy. Try calling a business on the phone: “If you are calling about…press one; if you are calling about….press two…” And so it goes.
Thank God, prayer is not that way. Imagine-heaven having an automatic answering service! “Your call is very important to us here in heaven. If you are calling about health, please press one; if you are calling about finances, please press two.”
Jesus is not “Jesus, Inc.” He is our personal Savior. Yes, He died for the world and for the Church, but He died in my place. He shed His blood for me, and arose from the grave to secure my salvation. He is my personal Savior, and I trust that He is yours as well.
Jesus left the “99” to find the one lost sheep. He taught His disciples to go into the highways and hedges to find the lost. He saw individuals among crowds. He could hear one voice among many. When we no longer see people in a personal way, we have lost the heart of Christ and the heart of the apostles.
Luke 6:12 says that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer. The next day, He chose twelve whom He called apostles. No doubt He brought their names before the Father and asked for the Father’s will in this vital decision. These men would come to know Jesus in a most personal way. From these men, we know that Jesus was without sin. That is a credible witness from people who knew Him personally.
Creeds, confessions, and doctrinal statements are very important. They tell us what someone believes and what the Scriptures mean to a particular group. However, our faith is not in those things-it is in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. A creed cannot be your friend in a time of need, change your life, or resurrect your body. Jesus can. We do not go to heaven because of what we believe, but because of in whom we believe.
The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that Jesus came to reconcile, and He has made us reconcilers to God. The apostle John tells us in 1 John 1:1-3, that the apostolic fellowship was one of intimate relationship with Jesus and the Father, and their purpose was to call us into that same intimate fellowship. That fellowship would make our joy complete.
Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17 goes even further to ask that we would be one, even as He and the Father are one. This is incomprehensible to the natural mind. Nevertheless, the Lord gave Himself relationally and taught His disciples to do the same, and He invites us into the divine family to experience God’s goodness and mercy.
BARNABAS AND PAUL
In order to understand the vital nature of this invitation, let’s look at Barnabas’ invitation to Paul. Through an encounter with the risen Christ, “Saul the persecutor” became Paul the convert. He was blinded by the light and led into Damascus. Ananias, a stranger to Paul, came to the house where Paul was staying and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you, has sent me in order for you to receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” “Brother,” he said, not, “fellow church member” or “parishioner.”
Saul the persecutor soon became Paul the persecuted. Even other Christians were unsure of Paul because of the fierceness of his former persecutions. But Acts 9:27 says that Barnabas came to Paul and “took hold of him and brought him to the apostles.” Barnabas’ testimony about Paul’s conversion and boldness convinced the apostles, because they trusted Barnabas. This was not the work of a committee-it was the work of a friend. We owe Barnabas a great debt!
Through Barnabas, Paul came into fellowship with the apostles and became one of them himself. He entered into God’s place for Him through the power of God-ordained relationships. This is what John meant when he said, “that you may have fellowship with us.”
Who is inviting and what are people being invited to? We know Jesus is inviting and He has called us to invite. But what are we inviting people to?
It is certainly important to invite people to “hear our pastor,” or to “come to our Easter drama,” or to “hear our great choir.” But is there something more? Are we inviting them to know us, to eat with us, to pray with us, and to be our covenant friend? Unless we go further, we have lost the invitation that Jesus and the apostles gave. Unbelievers often get the wrong invitation.
To be sure, the Church will be a great gathering. It will not be a small insignificant group. But it will also be an intimate group. That is, there will be within the great Body circles of intimate fellowship that keep the authenticity of the Church…or it will cease to be what it claims to be. The invitation is to know Jesus-it should be given by someone who knows Him personally, and who is willing to be known personally.
The word “mentor” has gained popular usage. A mentor is someone who builds a personal relationship with a young believer, has become a role model, and is giving guidance to bring the new believer to maturity. Hopefully the one being mentored will also eventually become a mentor.
People who mature under personal tutelage-like children who mature under healthy parenting, usually reproduce in kind. People who are born of institutionalism usually become dependent on institutionalism and trust institutionalism to do the reproducing for them. That is how we get “Jesus, Inc.”
It must be said that many people like “Jesus, Inc.” instead of “Jesus personal.” “Jesus, Inc.” requires little: no accountability, no tithing, no personal holiness, no real discipline, and no rules. It is usually wholesome entertainment, uplifting, and educational. There is a lot to be said for it. But it requires no personal evangelistic responsibility.
One wonders, however, how all of this relates to what Jesus and the apostles did. Will it produce spiritual maturity and procreativity? Will it be there to personally help in times of real need? Or, will it simply say, “Be warmed and be filled.” Will “Jesus, Inc.” be there with God’s goodness and mercy? Will it redeem the lost soul and restore the wayward one? Will it offer the power of personal relationship as Barnabas did to Paul? Will it produce apostles or performers? Will it ultimately disciple or disappoint?
Each pastor and Christian must answer this before God. The current models seem to cater to our social and cultural condition of impersonal relationships and highly individualized thinking. We seem to be offering a “cafeteria” approach instead of a substantial healthy diet around a family table.
The jury is still out on “Consumer Christianity.” “Sermon burgers and worship chips” are a booming business and it is hard to knock success. But we may be selling fat and not muscle; convenience, and not durability. Spiritual “fast food” is not apostolic Christianity.
GETTING TO KNOW JESUS
I urge you to know Jesus in a personal way and enter into His family. I urge you to know real lasting friendship and fellowship with Him and with people. I also urge you to take the personal responsibility to pass on the power of personal relationship.
My intent is not to be critical, but to exhort us to avoid the lowest common denominator syndrome, the path of least resistance, and avoid the temptation to expect the Church in general to do what we are not willing to do in particular.
John Powe said, “Anyone who builds a relationship on less than openness and honesty is building on sand.” Jesus builds upon the personal intimate truth about Himself and about us. Anything less will lead to unreality.
I began the ministry in 1955. People sometimes ask me, “What about your ministry have you most appreciated?” My answer is “There is not a close second…it is the people that God has brought into my life, and those to whom I have been able to bring life.”
May God bless you with abundant life-enough to share with someone else.
(Taken from “One-To-One” magazine, Summer 2001, by Charles Simpson; used by permission of Charles Simpson Ministries. For more information, please write to CSM Publishing; PO Box Z; Mobile, AL 36616)
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, speaker, and pastor who has been in ministry since 1955. He became a pioneer and leader in the Charismatic Renewal, traveling around the world and teaching thousands of people.
by Rick Joyner
Let us not succumb to pettiness in our challenges concerning another’s sin. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). The majority of us still have a few hundred things wrong in our lives that the Lord is not finished with. He is usually dealing with one or two of them at a time because that is all we can handle. It is one of Satan’s strategies to try and distract us into trying to deal with the other three hundred problems we have, resulting in frustration and defeat.
Matthew 18 was not given to us to use as a club for letting our brother know how he offended us. If we have love we will cover most of those unless it is bringing unnecessary injury to our brother. We must use this Scripture, and indeed all Scripture, in love, not out of self-preservation or in retaliation.
Of course, the Lord Jesus Himself is our perfect model. When He corrected the seven churches in Revelation, He gave us a perfect model for bringing correction in the church. He first praised each church and highlighted what they were doing right. He then straightforwardly addressed their problems. Incredibly, He even gave Jezebel an opportunity to repent! He then gave each church a wonderful promise of reward for overcoming their problems. The Lord never changes. When He brings correction today it always comes wrapped in encouragement, hope and promises.
The “accuser of the brethren” is also trying to bring correction to the church. His methods and his goals are obviously quite different. Jesus encourages and gives hope; Satan condemns and tries to impart hopelessness. Jesus builds one up so that they can handle the correction; Satan tears you down trying to get you to quit. Jesus loves us and wants to bring us to the highest place that He can. Satan’s goal is destruction.
One of the more remarkable phenomenon of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements has been the inability of those inclined to spiritual gifts and experiences to discern the spirits. There seems to be the least discernment of the most deadly enemy spirit of all – the accuser of the brethren! Could it be that our judgments against those who do not have the baptism, or other spiritual experiences like ours, have yoked us with an inability to discern the spirits? Even without the spiritual gift of discernment, James gave us clear guidelines for discerning the source of wisdom, which if we had heeded would have preserved the church from some of her most humiliating failures:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13-18 NKJV).
We are saved by grace and we need all of the grace that we can get to make it through life. If we want to receive grace, we had better learn to give grace because we are going to reap what we sow. If we expect to receive mercy, we had better start sowing mercy, and most of us are going to need all of the mercy we can get. The very last thing that we want to do is come before the Lord on that day with our brother’s blood on our hands. He warned,
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca [Empty head] !” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison [bondage]. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny (Mathew 5:21-26 NKJV).
The context of this warning is that, if we have been guilty of slandering a brother, we should forget about our offerings to the Lord until we have been reconciled to our brother. We often think that our sacrifices and offerings can compensate for such sins but they never will. We will stay in the prisons we make for ourselves with our judgments until we have paid the last cent, or until we are reconciled to the brother we slandered.
The Lord said that when He returned He was going to judge between the sheep and the goats (see Matthew 25:31-46). Those who are judged to be sheep inherit the kingdom and eternal life. Those who are designated as goats are sent to eternal judgment. The separation was determined by how each group had treated the Lord, which was reflected in how they had treated his people. As John stated:
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20 NIV).
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:15-16).
One of the great tragedies of church history has been the way leaders of each move of God have become opposers and persecutors of succeeding moves. To date this trend has not failed. Numerous leaders have spent their lives serving faithfully and well, only to end as vessels for the accuser, who makes them a stumbling block for the next move.
As a new move of the Spirit is now this terrible separation between spiritual generations has again begun to appear. As we forewarned our readers in January of 1989 (in the article An Onslaught Against the Church), “the accuser of the brethren” has been released with unprecedented rage. Satan’s highest goal is to get brethren accusing and dividing against one another.
The Lord is allowing this onslaught in order to purify His church, and to work humility into many of those He is about to release with increasing power and authority. He is also allowing the accuser to surface in the church so that He can cut his head off. The Lord will vindicate those who are falsely accused in a way that will put a holy and pure fear of the Lord in His people so that we will not continue to give dominion in our hearts to the accuser.
What is it that causes leaders of one move to become opposers of the next move? There are several factors involved, which we must understand and be delivered from or we will end up repeating the same error. We may think and say that we would never do this, but that is what everyone has thought and said who has ended up doing it. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The pride that causes us to assume we will not do it is one of the very factors that leads to our fall.
This problem actually precedes church history and goes all the way back to the very first two brothers born into this world. The older could not bear the younger because, as John observed:
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous (1 John 3:11-12).
Each move of the Holy Spirit has resulted in the restoration of more light to the church. This is not new truth but truth that was lost by the church through the Dark Ages of her history. Regardless of what we call our opposition, a basic reason for most of it is jealousy. Those in leadership, or who have been faithful to the light they have for a time, cannot believe the Lord would use anyone but them for further restoration of His truth and purposes.
Men with natural leadership abilities are usually those who attain the greatest positions of influence in the church. These are not wimps, and it is difficult for them to give up leadership. Even so, if we lean on our natural leadership abilities, instead of simply obeying the Lord, we will almost certainly be doomed to the ultimate failure of becoming a stumbling block.
True spiritual leadership is rooted in the humility of servanthood, not in natural abilities. The more the apostle Paul grew in true spiritual authority the more determined he became to “put no confidence in the flesh,” but to “glory in his weaknesses.” It is only those domains that we, ourselves, have established that we will have to protect. Those who truly have their authority established by God trust God to keep that which has been entrusted to them.
The only remedy leaders have to keep from falling to this terrible trap is to seek the humility and nature of John the Baptist. This man is one of the greatest types of true spiritual ministry. His whole purpose in this life was to prepare the way for Jesus, to point to Him, then to decrease as the greater One increased. John’s joy was to see the bridegroom’s joy.
True spiritual leaders must have the attitude of “spiritual” eunuchs. A eunuch’s whole purpose was to prepare the bride for the king. It was not even possible for the eunuch to desire the bride, but his whole joy was in his king’s joy. Jesus “emptied Himself and became of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant.” So must all who would walk in true spiritual authority. When we use the ministry in order to make a reputation, to find those who will serve us and to be filled ourselves, we will not have the authority of Christ.
It is not always the older generation of leadership that has been the stumbling block; the new generation has been just as guilty of causing the previous one to stumble! The very arrogance of presuming that we are the new generation (in contrast to the old) is rooted in a pride that God has to resist. This is a humiliating slap in the face to men and women who have given their lives to faithfully serving the Lord and His people.
Jesus did not ridicule John the Baptist for being a part of the old order-He honored him. Jesus even submitted Himself to John’s ministry. This submission did not entail allowing John to control Him, but He acknowledged John and esteemed him and his work.
Why is it that abused children grow up to be abusers? Why is it that accused saints grow up to become accusers? The answer is the same for both. Abused children usually grow up judging their parents and determined not to be like them. So they become reactionary, which does not lead to grace but feeds and nurtures the bitterness-which ultimately results in their becoming just like their parent. Only humility, repentance and forgiveness will ever break that cycle. The sins of the parents will become the sins of the children until we receive the grace of the cross. God gives His grace to the humble-those who understand that they will be like their parents without His help.
There will be a generation that will be persecuted like every one before it, but which will not go on to persecute the next move. This movement will not have become subject to the “pride of generations,” assuming that all things will be concluded with them. This generation will have found the grace of the cross, having forgiven from the heart those who mistreated them.
This generation will also perceive and even hope that their children, spiritual and natural, may go further in Christ than they went and will rejoice in it. They will give their lives to making the way of that generation as smooth as possible, and will then rejoice to decrease as that generation arises. They will be of the spirit of Elijah who will return the hearts of the fathers to the sons, and the hearts of the sons to the fathers.
Our ability to be such a generation, which prepares the way for the Lord and His ultimate purposes, will be determined by which of the two ministries we choose – accusation or intercession. Let us now remove the terrible yoke of “pointing the finger” from our midst and begin turning our criticisms into intercession.
(Taken from The Surpassing Greatness of His Power, pages 191-198, by Rick Joyner, copyright 1996; used by permission of MorningStar Publications.)
Rick Joyner, founded MorningStar Publications and Ministries in 1985. Rick is a popular conference speaker and is the author or more than 30 books.