Tuesday, January 27, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 17

Day 17 A Place to Belong

Have you noticed that Americans have a love/hate relationship with belonging? We want to belong—as long as there’s no commitment required. Marriage, family, schools, churches and neighborhoods are all types of communities that have suffered terribly in the past 50 years from this unwillingness to commit to each other.

During the same timeframe, we have seen a huge rise in gangs—which all require absolute commitment. Militant religions and many cults and religions, are similar. They require staggering commitment—even the sacrifice of one’s life.

Something must be wrong here!

God created us with the need to belong. Not a want or a desire—a need. That need has a name: intimacy.

When the need for intimacy is not fulfilled through right relationship with him and his covenant community, people look elsewhere. But exactly what is it that they are looking for? Dr. David Ferguson and Dr. Don McMinn, of Intimate Life Ministries, have documented this need in their book: Top 10 Intimacy Needs. In this wonderful little book, they go on to explain the dynamics of intimacy. (We encourage you to check out their website: www.ilministries.org.)

Come to find out, intimacy is not just an American need—it’s cross-cultural, intergenerational, life-long and continuous. Not only is it OK to have these intimacy needs, it’s dangerous to misunderstand the importance of meeting these needs:

  • It’s dangerous to think we are self-sufficient. Not only will we neglect meeting our own needs, we will neglect the needs of those around us. (See Revelation 3:17.)

  • It’s dangerous to have a mindset of entitlement—selfishly demanding that everyone around you be responsible to ensure that all your needs be met first. (Very little serving or submitting or taking the initiative here!)

  • It’s dangerous to think our needs are a result of sin—that there is something wrong with us when we feel these needs. (Look at the intimacy needs of Jesus—the only sinless human!)

So, just what are these top 10 intimacy needs? They are: acceptance, approval, encouragement, support, affection, security, respect, attention, comfort and appreciation.

While each of us has all of these needs, we will have a different priority. One person’s order—even their top three—may be completely different from another. This difference shows, again, the importance of spending time getting to know yourself and others—so you can learn how to meet their needs and help them learn how to meet your needs.

The Intimate Life Ministries mission is one of restoring what they call Great Commandment Love (what you’ll find in Matthew 22:37) to the church.

Hey, would you look at that? This sounds like hesed—serving, submitting and leading with love, grace and mercy.

That’s exactly right! When we practice hesed, we are keeping covenant. We are loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength—and our neighbor as ourselves.

God’s complete and faithful hesed toward us provides a way for all these needs to be met—either directly through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts or through the Covenant Community. That is why it is so important for us to love each other. Because if we do not love each other, then we are letting God down—we are breaking covenant with him and missing the mark. And God calls missing the mark sin.

This is the commitment that is required for belonging—spending quality time together. Hanging out together. Knowing there is someone in your corner. If the Covenant Community doesn’t get it right, where do people turn?

Well, go back and review today’s first two paragraphs…the alternative is not pretty.

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:18 through 3:10. While you’re reading, look for the importance of doing what is right—practicing hesed.

Keep Breathing!

This third week we want you to accelerate a little. Invite God to fill you today with the Holy Spirit so that you will be able to remain on target and faithful to God’s purpose.

Feel him helping you pedal. Thank him for giving you his family so he could fulfill your need to belong. Ask God to help you identify your top three intimacy needs—and look for one opportunity to meet an intimacy need in someone else.

Now we’re picking up speed—hang on!

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