The importance of relationships.
Very recently my wife and I temporarily moved back to a city and a country where we lived three years ago. The culture is different from my own and so is the language.
On our first visits to familiar places, we experienced the power of relationship in a very positive way. Even while wearing COVID19 masks, people recognized us. The local guy who sells cottage cheese at the market looked up with excitement and joy to see us and so did the man from a central Asian country from whom we regularly bought roasted almonds three years ago. The young man selling lamb at the market, also from central Asia, shouted and called after us. For the first time, he tried some English! When we entered a small neighbourhood café/restaurant, the waitress immediately recognized us and came to hug us. One morning walking on our way to work, a parent with children greeted us with joy and so did a man whom we had contact with before, when he hooted to attract our attention while he was waiting with his car at a traffic light, as we crossed the road.
It was good to be recognized in spite of wearing a mask. It was good to know that even very casual relationships were strong enough to last for more than 3 years in the memories of those we met.
It was good to rediscover how precious and powerful relationships are.
Many of these people do not believe as we do. Some of them follow completely different religions, others nothing at all. But in a very real way, we realized that in some way we are connected and we influence each other’s lives in positive ways.
Jesus knew the power of relationship. He did not hesitate to build relationships with pagan Roman soldiers, despised tax collectors, dropout young fishermen, some prostitutes, and even important Pharisees. Sowing the seed of relationship with the people you casually meet during the course of a day is a Kingdom principle. It is also a disciple-making principle. Jesus did it and as we follow in His footsteps, we should make this part of our normal lifestyle as well.
From one such a seed, a harvest can grow!
This life-style does not come naturally for me as I am somewhat of an introvert. Maybe my wife’s beautiful smile was the secret. But I learned from Jesus, but also from at least two friends who would walk down the street in a strange and foreign city and two hours later come back, knowing the names of many of the street vendors they met on the way.
The more I understand Jesus’ way of relating to people, the more I realize that building relationship as He did is one of the keys to the Kingdom.