Episode 1. Why we need Faithfulness
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There are a lot of trendy words out there in our language. Wicked. Awesome. Unreal. But – well “faithfulness” isn’t one of them. It turns out though that we need faithfulness …
There are a lot of trendy words out there in our language. Awesome. Unreal. But, well “faithfulness” isn’t one of them. It turns out though that we need faithfulness almost as much as the air we breathe.
When I was a boy growing up, every now and then, my socks would get holes in them, you know, right where your big toe goes. These days, when a sock gets a hole, we wait until it gets so big that our toe sticks out and then we throw the socks away. After all, a new pair only costs, well, not that much. In fact, it’s pretty much a use ‘em up, throw ‘em out kind of world we live in.
Well, that’s okay I guess until we take that kind of mentality into our relationships, right? Even just a century ago people lived more in a village atmosphere. Everyone knew everyone else. People rarely moved out of their village, so they just had to get on.
Today, the world is entirely different. For most of us, the village is gone and people we don’t really like, well, we just throw them away like an old pair of socks.
There are so many good things that happen in life; falling in love; enjoying your job; watching your kids grow up. My wife and I are just planning a holiday at the moment. We just went out and bought a new painting for our dining room, which we redecorated. Enjoying good food; going for a walk; buying a house. Jacqui and I love redecorating and doing things like that together.
But there’s one thing that underpins them all and I think that thing is relationships. I love doing up a house, but if it was empty, if Jacqui and my daughter weren’t there, if I was doing things alone … Loneliness is a sad thing. I know. I’ve been there.
The way we live nowadays, well it’s changed. Maybe if you live in India or Indonesia or a Pacific Island probably you have a real sense of family and community. Maybe if you live in rural areas it’s the same.
But in the city, you know in the “big smoke”, in the west, we are isolated; TV’s, cars, shopping centres; they’ve all conspired. On the street where I live neighbours really don’t know one another.
I was in Colorado Springs in America just recently and I was talking with a taxi driver who was taking me to the airport, his name in Vim, a really nice guy. And he was saying, “Where are you from,” and I said, “I’m from Sydney, Australia.” And he was saying, “Wow! You know the world is so big and yet it’s so small. You can be here so quickly and for such a short period of time.” And then he made an interesting observation. Vim said, “But we all want the same things, doesn’t matter where we live.”
The guy is right. We want to love and to be loved. We want a job that we enjoy and get a sense of fulfilment out of. We want to earn a reasonable living. Maybe have a family. And loneliness makes all of those things tough. We have a deep yearning inside for relationships.
But not just any sort of relationship. The crunch in relationships is to have a faithful relationship; people who are faithful to us; through the ups and through the downs; someone we can depend on. People who every now and then bother just to give us a call or they bother to stay in touch and say, “Let’s catch up for a coffee, or let’s gets together for lunch, or lets …” You know, people who are faithful.
Faithfulness is a bit like water or food or like air. If you take it away, it becomes a sterile, thankless world to live in. In fact, if you have more than say half a dozen of those sorts of people in your life you are really, really blessed, if you think of the world on a global scale.
This week on A Different Perspective, we are looking at the whole subject of faithfulness. I know, it’s not a very trendy word but as I said it’s kind of like the air that we breathe and the food that we eat. I mean without faithful, trusting relationships between us and other people, and between God and us, well, it’s a lonely, lonely world.
The opposite of faithfulness is betrayal, and betrayal hurts. People can betray you either with a sharp stab in the back or just by letting the relationship that should be something wither on the vine.
Right throughout what we call the Bible, God talks about His faithfulness and steadfast love, and He says it never, never ceases. Over and over again we see this same phrase “faithfulness and steadfast love”, “steadfast love and faithfulness”. It’s like they’re synonymous, they have the same meaning.
Steadfast love and faithfulness are about having someone who is a safe harbour. You can always go there; you’ll always be accepted there … it is unconditional, it is constant. You never have to worry about whether this person will accept you, and that’s how God talks about himself. Steadfast love is a love that acts. It’s a proactive love. It plans to love. It dreams to love.
A good friend of mine, Pete Watson who’s the pastor at our church, he was saying, “If you want to bless me, you don’t invite me to a knitting club. If you want to bless me, ask me to play golf with you or ask me to catch up with you for lunch. They’re the things that bless me.” And isn’t it true, what blesses one person doesn’t necessarily bless another person.
So, steadfast love has to dream and plan to bless other people. What about your life? How much are you and I givers of steadfast love and faithfulness? Who are we going to plan to bless just in the next seven days? How are we going to do it? How are we going to reach them and touch them and love them?
Living life can be a humdrum, day-after-day … and love can become a bit humdrum as well. I remember the story of Olga and Vladimir, two Russian peasant farmers, and after thirty years of marriage Olga said to Vladimir, “You never tell me you love me anymore.” And Vladimir said, “I told you on our wedding day, didn’t I? Well, if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” Well, okay, but it’s not what Olga had in mind.
I believe we need a new mindset. A mindset that’s based on what God is like. Look at the people around us:
Work colleagues, maybe you can open a connection; maybe help someone to achieve something; maybe do something good for them behind their back.
Between husband and wife, maybe we can plan to do things together, you know, next weekend so you don’t get to the weekend and say, “What are we going to do this weekend.”
Maybe with kids, I mean, my daughter Melissa, she loves silver jewellery, so when I’m at airports and travelling I’m always looking for silver jewellery. And this time I couldn’t see any, but I saw this little container of lip balm. So I bought her this little bit of lip balm that was made in Paris and I brought it home and she went, “Wow! Lip balm from Paris!”
In this isolated world that we live in where people are getting their sense of community from Oprah and Dr Phil on the tube. You and I can build bridges, we can build communities, we can build relationships that span distance and span time. I believe that’s what faithfulness and steadfast love is.
If God’s faithfulness and steadfast love never cease, if God looks at you and me through His Son Jesus, through what Jesus has done for us on the cross. He looks at us and He goes, “Wow! You know, I’m going to bless that person, I’m going to bless Berni, I’m going to bless this other one here. I’m just going to do this because My steadfast love and My faithfulness never cease.”
If that’s what God is like all the time, well, maybe that’s a good reason for us to be like that. The apostle Paul wrote that:
As we sow, so shall we reap. (Galatians 6:7)
Whatever we sow we end up reaping. And when we sow faithfulness, when we sow steadfast love into people’s lives, day after day after day; when you and I are a blessing because we plan to be a blessing; little bit by little bit, bridges are built, relationships happen, communities develop and ultimately we end up reaping what we sow.
When a relationship gets a hole, we can either darn it or we can throw it out.