God created Adam and said about him, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). That message does not mean that everyone must be married, but it does show that God made us to be in relationship with others. Those of us (like me) who tend be loners need to hear this word: By God’s design, we need other people. Here are five relationships every follower of Christ needs:
1. God—I know this one’s a given, but too often we know God in our head and not in our heart. Having a genuine relationship with God means wanting to speak to Him, hear from Him, be obedient to Him and tell others about Him. I’m not sure many believers have that kind of relationship with our Creator.
2. A “Paul”—All believers need a mature brother or sister in Christ who mentors them, who guides them in life to walk more and more with Jesus. A “Paul” has permission to ask you any questions, to drill down deeply into your life so even your secret places are still honoring to God.
3. A “Barnabas”—A “Barnabas” is a peer, a friend who encourages you to be faithful to God. He knows you well enough to read your eyes and understand your heart, but he’s also the guy who just “hangs out” with you for the fun of it. He’s a brother who’s close to where you are in his walk with God, and your goal is to grow together.
4. A “Timothy”—“Timothy” is a younger believer into whose life you invest yourself (which, of course, makes you a “Paul” to him). He’s the believer who watches your life, listening and learning from you as you spend time together. Your Timothy wants to be like God because you are, and this “Paul/Timothy” relationship is a fundamental New Testament model of discipleship.
5. A “Samaritan woman” or a “rich young ruler”—The Samaritan woman and the rich young ruler are examples of nonbelievers who encountered Jesus. All of us need an intentional relationship with some nonbeliever, whether it’s a woman at the well, a rich young ruler or a religious Pharisee. If you don’t have such a relationship, it’s going to be difficult to be a Great Commission Christian who shares the good news.
True believers, of course, have a relationship with God. Some have a Paul, and some have a Timothy. Many have at least a surface-level Barnabas, though the relationship is not as deep as it could be. Too few have a Samaritan woman or rich young ruler relationship. We know nonbelievers, but we don’t see them as lost sheep without a shepherd.
Hence, we have much relationship work to do.
Which of these relationships do you have? Which ones do you need to develop?