Today in our ‘Connections’ series we looked at our horizontal connection with other members of God’s family. God made us to be a ‘healthy, robust community‘ (see James 3:17-18 in the Message version) and, in Nicky Gumbel’s words, ‘There is power in connection: connections lead to life.’ (BIOY, 19-11-19) The enemy seeks to divide and split us up, but if we want to grow up in Christ and become fully mature, we have to learn how to get along with other people.

Our EQ (emotional quotient) is just as important (if not more so) than our IQ (intelligence quotient). The Bible is full of advice on how to love others; Jesus said that the two most important commandments were to love God with all we are (the vertical connection) and to love our neighbours as ourselves (the horizontal connection). (Matt 22:37-38) It’s crucial that we learn to live wisely if we are to maintain good relationships and grow spiritually. James gives us good advice about living wisely: ‘Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterised by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.’ (James 3:17-18) This means:

  1. Learning that God’s wisdom is the only way to live. Any philosophy which doesn’t start with God is likely to end up deviating in some way from truth. We have to learn what God considers wise and then live that way! Loving others with selfless, sacrificial love can only be done as God’s selfless, sacrificial love dwells in us.

  2. Real wisdom is characterised by getting along with other people. We have to learn to be gentle and reasonable, not running people down and thinking the worst of them. We have to be merciful and forgiving people (see Eph 4:29-32).

  3. Learning to be consistent, living with integrity and authenticity. Often, moody, volatile people can be hard to get along with and this can lead to resentment and wariness in relationships. We have to be honest with each other and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to trust. We need to learn to live as Paul commanded: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ (Phil 2:3-4) The Jesus way will always be counter-intuitive and will call us to deny ourselves. (Mark 8:34-35) Only then can we truly love others as He wants us to.

Before we can have significant impact on our local community, we have to become a community of believers, the family of God. We truly are ‘better together’!