Fellowship is critical to our spiritual journeys. It serves in helping us be the best we can be while serving others in helping them to be their best. We are not meant to go through life alone. None of us. We need to be in relationship, authentic friendship, and community, which means we need to love others.
Jesus instructs us to love our neighbors in the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37-39 or Mark 12:29-31). I have a good friend, Ennie Hickman, who is a speaker for the Steubenville Conferences. Ennie speaks of Jesus’ teaching as not being metaphorical or theoretical. Ennie makes the point that Jesus meant our neighbor, neighbor, our next-door neighbor, the person in the house or apartment near us. Who we see in the grocery store or post office, everywhere we look…all who God puts in our lives.
Loving our neighbors includes our families. Many people trip over those right in front of them to go do ministry elsewhere. At one time, I was guilty of this. Our ministry needs to start at home. Ephesians 5:25 says that husbands are to love their wives the way Jesus loved the Church. Jesus gave His life for the Church, loving sacrificially. I need to be willing to give my life for my wife. I need to do my best to help her get to heaven, praying with and for her.
I didn’t get this in my first marriage. My wife needs to be my priority, with our kids being a close second, not only praying with them and for them, but trying to be a good example, always speaking truth and being charitable.
Inner Circle vs. Outer Circle
With family and friends, I think about our inner circle versus our outer circle. Our inner circle should include only those who help us become better versions of ourselves, who teach us, pray with us, hold us accountable, and truly love us. Everyone else should be in our outer circle. This is a challenge for some because arguably there are family members and friends who shouldn’t be in our inner circle. This is true if they aren’t moving in the same direction as you; if they don’t truly have your best interests at heart.
The above doesn’t mean you cast them aside. Our outer circle is an opportunity for ministry, where we are called to share the love of Christ with others.
Related to inner circle, I’m a big fan of faith-based small groups. I point to my Parish Men’s Group as critical to my journey. Before I thought “woe was me….I was the only one experiencing these things”. Then I came to understand that we all experience similar things, just characterized differently. These brothers in Christ were distant enough to not have an agenda (family often has agenda), but close enough to listen, care, tell me the truth, hold me accountable, and love me.
As always, please email me at Mark@MarkJosephMinistries.com with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests.
God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!
Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!