AS WE GROW IN HIM, WE’VE ALSO EXPERIENCED CLOSER
RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER.
HOW I LOVE AND RESPECT OUR FELLOWSHIP HERE!
AND I AM EAGER, AS C. S. LEWIS PUT IT,
TO GO FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN.
FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, BEFORE WE BEGIN A SUMMER STUDY,
I WANT TO CONSIDER SOME WAYS TO GO FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN THE SHADOWLANDS — RIGHT HERE AND NOW
WITH THE LORD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER.
MAY IS ALMOST AS BUSY A TIME AS DECEMBER,
SO THE LESSONS WILL BE SHORTER.
i’VE BEEN PONDERING WHAT LARRY CRABB
CALLS “RELATIONAL SIN.”
WHAT IS IT? HOW TO OVERCOME IT?
THIS CAN BRING US FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN
WITH THE LORD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER.
Relational sin is moving towards you with my will being in mind at any cost to you. Relational Holiness is moving towards you, with your will being in mind, at any cost to me. That’s how God relates.
When I read that I felt convicted — I realized how often I am not listening deeply, forgetting completely about myself, and hearing, really hearing them. Crabb, in his book SoulTalk talks about hearing their deepest need and not their surface need. Our surface need could be any problem under the sun we’d like fixed, but our deepest need is intimacy with Christ and resting in Him. In fact, God may use our surface need to get to our deepest need. Crabb gives the example of a couple with a troubled marriage coming to him for counseling. The husband has been unfaithful and she has been unforgiving. The temptation for the counselor is to try to fix the surface problem — to get him to commit to faithfulness and to get her to forgive. But Crabb says that is just “the surface” problem. (Remind you of our idolatry study?)
Crabb says that what he really needs to do as a counselor is to listen carefully to discover what is underneath the infidelity and the unforgiveness. To make a long story short, he finally tells the husband “What is hurting your wife more than your infidelity is your lack of passion for Christ.” And to the wife, “This tremendous pain you are experiencing is an opportunity for you to experience intimacy with Christ.”
Crabb says that all of us, as children of God with the Holy Spirit, can help each other by engaging in “soul-talk.” This takes careful listening. It also takes avoiding “relational sin.”
One night after the cruise, as the four of us from my church, The Orchard, stayed at a hotel before catching our early flight home, we decided to try our hand at “Soul-Talk.” I agreed to be the guinea pig. This is a condensed version of our conversation.
Dee: The problem I will be facing soon and which is already making me anxious is that I am going to be finished with this book on The Song of Songs, and in the past that has been a restless time.
Twila: What do you usually do when that happens?
Dee: I want so badly to be writing that I have often tried to write before the Lord has really given me something.
Vicki: And then what happens?
Dee: It either goes in the trash or a I press on and write a mediocre book.
Debbie: What if you didn’t try to write but just spent time with the Lord?
Dee: I know that is the answer. It is hard for me to do, for I have fears that He will never give me anything, but I even know that I must be content if He does not. For my joy, my identity, and my meaning must be found in Him, or writing has become an idol. I do know this — but it is helpful to articulate it and have you confirm it.
They didn’t tell me anything that the deepest part of me didn’t already know, and yet they did draw those deep waters out. My goal is to help each of us grow in understanding one another and in our listening skills so that we might help one another go further up and further in — in our face to face relationships, and even RIGHT here on this blog. Do you think that is possible?
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- How has the Lord moved closer to you at great cost to his own will?
Monday-Thursday Bible Study: Soul-Talk
3. Meditate on Proverbs 20:5
A. To what does Solomon compare the purposes of a person’s heart? What does this mean?
B. What can a person of understanding do?
C. Whom do you know who is good at this? What makes him (or her) good at it?
Jesus was always doing it. Granted, He had the power to read minds, yet still, He provides a model in moving toward the real need of others and helping them to see it themselves. In this passage we see him invited into the home of Simon the Pharisee. Offering hospitality was significant, and Simon seems genuinely curious about Jesus, wanting to know if he is a prophet. Perhaps Simon was a skeptical seeker, like Nicodemus. Yet he thought his real need was finding out if Jesus was a prophet, because if he was, Simon wanted to be on the right team. Jesus listens to Simon and then helps him see his real need. The situation occurs when a sinful woman comes into Simon’s home to anoint Jesus.
4. Read Luke 7:36-43
A. Describe the scene in 36-38.
B. How was she “moving toward Jesus” at cost to herself? Why, do you think?
What does he think he has discovered about Jesus — and why?
D. It’s always ominous when Jesus says, “I have something to tell you.” To his credit, how does Simon
reply in verse 40?
E. What is Jesus’ illustration in verses 41-42? And what is his point?
Pharisees were usually silent or walked away when Jesus was getting too close to their hearts.
But Simon answers. Again, I believe, to his credit. Because of this, Jesus continues on to point out
Simon’s real need.
5. In Luke 7:44-47 what does Jesus tell Simon he lacks that this woman has?
I remember when someone close to me saw the cover of a book of mine that I’d just done with Kathy Troccoli.
Though she was a faithful church-goer, she said, “Dee — that’s weird.” Tim Keller (and I so hope you can hear his sermon) said that when Jesus told Simon he should have been kissing him, anointing him, and weeping, Simon no doubt thought:
Yet Jesus was going to Simon’s deepest need.
6. Read Luke 7:45-50
A. What was Simon’s deepest need and how was Jesus addressing it?
B. Compare verse 47 to Luke 5:30-32. What similarities do you see?
C. How does he meet the woman’s deepest need and what is the reaction of those at the table?
7. What problem is occupying your mind recently — and what do you think is your greatest need?
Friday: Tim Keller sermon
This sermon is not free, so it is optional — but I do think you will be so glad if you purchase it and listen to it. If you do, share your notes and comments here. Faith in Jesus
8. What is your take-a-way and why?