WORSHIP REQUIRES HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS.
Jesus said to people bringing their offerings with the knowledge of a broken relationship, “Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23,24). We are a family. To worship in Spirit and in truth is to worship in unity. Corporate worship is out of order where disunity exists. Jesus said to the Pharisees, strong on token gifts and weak on love, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desires mercy, not sacrifice‘” (Matthew 9:13). God does not find pleasure in what we give Him if what we offer to others does not come from a loving heart. A horizontal disconnect invalidates the vertical. And John wrote that “if anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: whoever loves God must [that does not say “should”} also love his brother” (I John 4:20,21). Want to experience God’s presence? it comes more through relationship than through worship. “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (I John 4:12,16). If you need an upgrade in your worship life, strengthen your relationships.
WITNESS REQUIRES HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS.
It is not our doctrine that convinces the world. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34,35). Our doctrine, in fact, has often convinced the world that we are uncaring, because we have used theology to prove that we are right and our brother (our family member) is wrong. Division is slanderous in the household of God, and it discredits our message. Jesus prayed, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). This is because the Trinity operates in a relational paradigm. The Trinity is a “blessed community,” a fellowship of love. Before the earth was created, the Father, Son, and Spirit were together, enjoying the company of one another. God is not a doctrine; He is a person—in relationship. Unity, such as is found in the Trinity, can only be accomplished where relationships are primary and functions secondary. Some church bodies stress the importance of their doctrine to the exclusion of healthy relationships. Their doctrine becomes a wall to exclude them from other people. Consider this equation: good theology + bad relationships = bad theology. The Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission. It speaks to our relationships. The Great Commission speaks to our vision, and it is valid if it grows out of love.
UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS INVALIDATE MINISTRY.
Paul lists several ministries, especially important to the charismatic Corinthians: speaking in tongues, using the gift of prophecy to unlock mysteries (such as Daniel did), using the gift of faith to move mountains (such as George Mueller did). Then he said that they are of no value without love, the kind of love that is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. I would have said “less value”; Paul said “no value.” And Jesus similarly said to people who claimed a ministry of prophecy, deliverance, and miracle working but disconnected it from relationship, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22,23). Learn to read the light on the dashboard. Treat it as a friend. It goes on when what should keep the church moving is broken. If the light goes on, deal with the issue if you want to keep moving forward. You’ll be glad you did–and so will the church!