Believe it or not, I’m not a naturally outgoing person. All things being equal, I like to stick to a few really intense, one-on-one relationships. A social butterfly I am not.
Despite my natural handicaps, however, God has called me to help develop Christian community here in Washington, DC. This work forces me to get out of my shell, meet new people, and interact in ways that aren’t necessarily comfortable to me.
I read once that human beings are a lot like LEGOS: Just like those little plastic building blocks, every person has only a certain number of connectors. Some of us have more connectors, others fewer, but each of us has a limit to how many people we can be in authentic, active relationship with.
Think about it. How many people are you friends with on Facebook? Now, how many of those have you had a real, in-person conversation with in the last month? The last week? If you’re anything like me, the first number is rather large, but the second number is surprisingly small. We can have a lot of contacts, but we can only sustain so many active friendships.
This presents something of a dilemma for us as followers of Jesus. On the one hand, we are called to share God’s love with everyone. Jesus calls us to go into all the world sharing the good news and forming communities. On the other hand, there are only so many active relationships that we can maintain. Practically speaking, we just can’t be in community with everyone.
So how do we make choices about where we devote our limited relational energy? Are we careful to ensure that our primary relationships are healthy ones that glorify God? Though it’s nice to have relationships where we can feel comfortable, how do we avoid surrounding ourselves with people who look and think just like me? What would it be like to regard each one of our relationships as an opportunity to live as the body of Christ?