The Network

ON PAPER DRAW A BRANCH DIAGRAM OF ALL THE PEOPLE THAT YOU PERSONALLY INTERACT WITH EVERY WEEK: FRIENDS, FAMILY, WORK, HOME, AND THOSE FACELESS PEOPLE WHO SERVE US EVERYDAY.

READING: Colossians 3:12-16 (The Message)
Each of us is connected to a huge network of people – a complex web of connections and relationships and adversaries and people we don’t even really care about.

Our relationship networks are like our genetic make up: No one has a network that is exactly like another person. All of our networks are individual to each of us. We may share bits and social groups with other people, but no-one knits them together quite like each other.

It’s what brings us the biggest joys – catching up with long lost friends, being comforted by the right person after a hard day, the rush of being in that gray area of almost being with someone, that great feeling of being in the same space as thousands of other people, and family meals at Christmas time.

It’s what brings us the most painful sadness’s as well – arguing with family members, going to a funeral of someone you knew really well, being humiliated in public, breaking up with someone that you love, loneliness, and sometimes family meals at Christmas time.

We were created to be in these relationship networks – You can be the biggest introvert that the world has ever seen, but in some shape or form you will be apart of a network.

Being in a Network is what life is all about.

But it’s not just about BEING in the network – it’s about how we BE in our network that really counts.

Jesus tells us that if we really want to live life as it was intended to be, to live as we were created to live, then we have to go against the grain of how the majority of people live – which is ultimately all about what’s best for number 1 – to living like people of the Kingdom of God – people who practise love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, gratitude, wisdom and peace. Which all sounds incredibly easy if you say it quick… but of coarse it’s not.

You can’t pick and choose about what you want to be good at either – you can’t say “I’m an expert at patience, but compassion is just not my thing..” or “I’m a gun at tolerance, but me and humility just ain’t gonna happen.” We’re designed to be balanced Kingdom people – people who workout at the spiritual Gym to develop whatever muscles are a bit flabby.

But all this sounds impossibly hard – like some idealistic communist rant with good intentions but that will fail. That’s actually not true – because what what drives this isn’t our own desire to be good, but it’s driven by the Spirit of God! The spirit helps us strive and succeed towards living this new life. And when we screw up the spirit is there to help us get back on track.

We don’t try and live like this because of our own strengths or abilities to do the right thing, but were powered by the spirit.

It’s not even about getting it right, but it’s about the journey of learning how to be in better relationships with others, and with God. And as we strive to do this, in a funny sort of way, we become purified.

And living like this is not something simply to be done as individuals, but also as a community of people helping each other along the way.

So today we’re going to imagine what the world might look like if a bunch of people like us, went out into our individual networks, and started living in this radically different way.

Look at the relationship chart you drew. Your sphere of influence is huge. Much bigger and more powerful than we give it credit for.

Is it possible that this strange thing called the kingdom of God that Jesus was always talking about impacts the world when we start taking up the challenge to live differently within our Relationship Networks? When we start showing love to everyone we know, not just the people that we find it easy to love. Even that guy who serves you at the Caltex down the road – who has really bad hair and terrible hygiene…

CLICK ON THE CARDS BELOW. RANDOMLY PICK A TOP HALF AND BOTTOM HALF OFF ANY CARD.

PEICE THEM TOGETHER AND THINK ABOUT A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU DIDN’T SHOW THAT VIRTUE IN THAT PARTICULAR PLACE (IE. DIDN’T SHOW PAITNECE IN YOUR WORK PLACE.)

FIND A “FRIENDLY STRANGER” AND SHARE ABOUT THIS SITUATION. TOGETHER TALK ABOUT OTHER WAYS THAT YOU COULD HAVE CREATIVELY LIVED OUT GOD KINGDOM IN THAT SITUATION.

Connection Cards

IN THE BOX UNDERNEATH THE VIRTUE ON YOUR CARD, WRITE THE NAME OF  SOMEONE YOU STRUGGLE WITH IN THAT AREA.  THROUGHOUT THE WEEK PRAY FOR THEM IN GENERAL, AND FOR YOUR STRENGTH WITH THEM IN THAT AREA.

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1 Comment »

  1. Lani Said:

    Not to sound too cliche or anything, but it’s kinda like ripples.

    I guess this community can be as much online as it is off and since I can’t really make it to offline community gatherings due to other circumstances, this’ll have to do. But then, what is church? Where is church? Is church defined by a building?

    Anyway, it’s funny you bring up this whole thing of networks because it’s something I struggle with hugely. I’m pretty good with most people. Some people could never imagine me being offside with anyone but there are particular relationships within my large network which beg to differ. It’s unusual that I ask for help but since this is a community of faith spurred to help each other out in a faith community, I’m just gonna ask.

    Thing is, I struggle mega hugely with the relationships within my family. My parents went splitsville last year after 22 and a half years of marriage. I wanted it to happen because I’ve never really liked my dad. How can you show love, patience and all the other virtues under the sun, for someone who was supposed to be there for you and show ultimate love for you, but threatened to kill you instead? How can you show love, patience, etc to a guy who’s the star of your earliest memory of violence and abuse?

    I mean, I fully understand the whole persecuted Christians thing. People threaten to kill them but they show love anyway. But it’s kinda different when it’s your own dad if you get what I mean? Sometimes I don’t want to forgive him or practice patience with him or whatnot, but then other times I do because it’s too much energy holding on to the grudge. Other times, I just want to be indifferent.

    I want to be more like Jesus. He was da man. But I struggle because of the deep emotional hurts that are so ingrained in each scar on my skin.

    I’m not really expecting answers to all my questions. Nor am I expecting for everyone to feel sorry for the girl with the mental parents. Part of being in community is being open to that community and sharing your struggles so that others may help with them in whatever way is feasible. In this case, it might be prayer and encouragement.

    Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I’ll catch ya laters homies.

    P.S. thanks for the website Spanky. I forgot about it til I remembered it about half an hour ago. It keeps me in the loop


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