Romans 1:11 "For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;"
Philip. 4:1 "Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved."
1 Thes. 3:6 "But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,"
2 Tim. 1:4 "longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy."
I don't mean to do any one of these verses a disservice by lumping them all together, because each of them carry a powerful meaning when they stand alone, but I wanted to read them together because I wanted for us to see the strength of Paul's longing to connect with fellow Christians. A longing God recognized when he created us. Throughout the creation narrative, God pauses to admire what He's done, several times he says, "It is good," or "it is very good." There is a predictable cadence to the narrative-a poetic pattern. But then Genesis 2:18 disrupts the pattern with God's declaration that something wasn't good-remember what it was? "It is not good for the man to be alone;"
Have you ever been in a crowd, and yet still feel alone? I don't want to go into cliche overdrive here, but we are not islands-we need to be connected to others. People have three core yearnings-a longing to believe, a longing to become and a longing to belong. Desperately, disillusioned people want something they can believe it. Disappointed people want to become somebodies and disenfranchised people want to belong-they want to fit in.
Do you long to belong? Paul longed for the people even when he did belong. In Romans 1:11, Paul writes, "For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;" Paul longed to be with the people so he could instruct them. There is a strange interdependence between a teacher and her students and between a Pastor and his congregation. There is a line in the movie "Widow Maker" that illustrates this interdependence. Harrison Ford's character is a captain of a Russian Submarine about to take the boat on its virgin voyage. He gathers his crew so he can address them before they head out to sea and says, "Without me, you are nothing." He pauses to let the impact of his words sink into the heart of his crew. About the time I was ready to write him off as arrogant and full of himself, he said, "Without you, I am nothing."
Though I'm not ready to apply those words literally to the relationship of a Pastor and a congregation, I pray that I fill a need in the life of this congregation and I do know that you fill a need in my life-a need to serve; a need to lead; a need to teach; a need to love; a need to Pastor. I long for you. I need you.
There are churches where the relationship between Pastor and people is antagonistic, to say the least. He berates them from the pulpit and they belittle him behind his back. To that Pastor I'd say, learn to love your people, even when they are unlovely and to that congregation I'd say, learn to respect your Pastor, even when he makes mistakes. I don't believe God intended the Pastor/congregation relationship to be
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