By Jeremy Oddy
William Smith, in his new book Loving Well: Even If You Haven’t Been, has challenged me to love others better. I need it, and so does the church. In one part of the book, he writes about the purpose of openness with one another as Christians. As a Christian, I want to be more open with others, and they with me. As a pastor, I want to see a church that thrives in biblical fellowship and community life for the purpose of growing together as disciples, caring for one another as a family, and on mission together as an army of gospel messengers. So, what is the purpose for openness? Smith simply states it is for Christians to experience more of Jesus together. He writes, “Our mutual calling is to live out our faith together, not simply provide solutions to one another.” When a person opens up his or her life to you, they are actually inviting you to a relationship – to growing together. Any answers and companionship in suffering you offer exist within the larger context of “we are on a journey together of learning to see and experience more of Christ in us as we live in his kingdom.” ”Answers are important,” writes Smith, “but they’re not the end goal.” We do struggle together to make sense of life, but struggle is not the end goal either. Here is the end goal: To see a little bit more of Jesus than we did earlier as we open up our lives to one another.
When someone shares their story with you, we may not have all the answers. We may only understand a little of what they are experiencing. But what we must do in sharing our lives together, we got to see where Jesus was and what he is doing.
Here are three simple ways that Smith suggests to practice openness with the purpose of experiencing Jesus together:
- First, respond by simply appreciating his or her openness as an invitation to share your lives together.
- Second, ask questions that invite the other person to share more.
- Third, make sure at some point to ask, “where is Jesus involved?”
Christ opened up his life to us, may we open up our lives to one another to experience more of Him together. May our friendships reflect our lives being shared freely, welcoming one another into our struggles, and growing into the fullness of Christ with one another.