Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hanging Out

  As anyone who knows me can tell you, I don't hang out well.  I don't know if I've always been this way, but I feel compelled to stay busy and am always subconsciously looking for one more thing to try to get done. I guess the good news is that I've never claimed to be a balanced individual, and I  know my hang-ups.  Leisure time or down time isn't something that appeals to me. I have an 'off' button, but it  gets wedged beneath the 'duty' lever. I'm always on the mission, so to speak. To borrow a phrase from the old hymn "At home or aboard, on the land, on the sea" I've always got to be doing something.  There's just so much to do that taking an afternoon to go fishing or play baseball almost physically grates on me, even though I acknowledge the benefit it seems to hold for other people. If I've ever spent  any time with you where there was no definite purpose, take that as the highest compliment I can offer. And yes, I'm talking about you, Doug and Rachel.
  In 20 years I've never been part of a church retreat (what exactly are we retreating from?) and I've attended maybe two  mens fellowship breakfasts or similar venues. I just frankly, can't stand them.  I've been invited, but I don't go. My wife has compelled me to attend such things, but I  beg out.I'm not saying that's right or healthy or normal. I'm just saying that's how it is.
  You might ask then, how do you get to know people? How do people get to know you?  How do you build friendships? I do all of those things by labouring in the ministry.  I have a partner in the ministry named Darnel.  Darnel and I have worked together knocking doors, passing out tracts and preaching on the street for  almost 13 years.  We've probably walked hundreds of miles and definitely  knocked thousands of doors. I know that man better than I know my own wife, it seems.  I know his  interests and his affections and his reactions as well as I know my own. By contrast, I've attended services with some people for that same length of time, and they remain  virtual strangers to me.   Admittedly, some of that is my own fault, but part of it is the very nature of laboring together.
  After all, the biblical definition of fellowship isn't hanging out out at the fellowship hall wolfing down doughnuts. The  biblical definition of fellowship is established in Leviticus 6, which says   " If a soul sin , and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship , or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth , sinning therein; Then it shall be, because he hath sinned , and is guilty , that he shall restore that which he took violently away , or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten , or that which was delivered him to keep , or the lost thing which he found ,  Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering."
  The context is something that  two men have in common, in this case a piece of property.  That definition holds true in Psalm 94, and   continues on  into the book of Acts, with references in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and 1 John. The context is always the same; two people that have joint ownership or joint possession of something, usually the  gosepl or the  minstry , at least in the New Testament.  People that evangelize together or edify together form a  bond that  supersedes and  amplifies the bond they already have in Christ.  The  van rides on the way to  labor, or on the way back are precious times where fellow warriors can either give each other courage for the battle ahead, or  swap stories about what they encountered on the way back.  To me, that  surpasses insipid conversations about what  was on TV last night or what some sports team has done or will do. I mean, who really cares?
  Once again, I am not saying this is balanced or normal or healthy, but I suspect that it is not unique.

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