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Chapter 15 - The Preferability of Superficial Relationships
The movie Fitzwilly had a character of a wealthy upper class elderly woman define a psychiatrist as someone to whom you told things that you would never tell your mother and if you did, she would have the common decency not to believe you. This captures a little of why we prefer to avoid getting to know people on a deeper level. There is that in all of us that is unattractive.
The phrase 'fair weather friend' carries with it an understanding that a relationship is superficial and will evaporate if circumstances (such as the weather) become difficult. In times of prosperity, our comforts and preferences draw us into social relationships that are pleasurable and do not expose us to that which might be too demanding.
This is why churches that operate in a mechanical way are more appealing than churches have a focus on relationships (like house churches). In a situation where there in no mask to wear, part to play, or diversionary activity, we are exposed to each other and have to face the truth that there is nothing in us that is commendable. Christians are admonished to love each other several times in the bible. This may be because we are so un-lovable.
Even modern family life can allow us to hide our own real flawed character as well as insulate us from the flawed qualities others have. With superficiality, while we lose relationship depth, we gain the opportunity not to be burdened with the truth of the shortcomings of others as well as hiding our own.
Many house churches fail to thrive simply because seeing each other in unavoidable truth can be too unsettling. It can be sad to see Christians flee from truth because it makes them uncomfortable. Seeing ourselves in truth can only be accomplished through humility. Seeing others in truth can only be accomplished in love. Often what is called Christian fellowship is just superficial worldly social interaction that hides us and protects us from truth. Real Christian fellowship exposes us and others to such scrutiny that only love can accomplish it.
If we consider the courage it would require, the discomfort we would have to endure, and the assurance we would lose if we were to embrace brutal honesty, we can understand why people hide from real or deep relationships. Like an addict that knows the heroin he injects in his arm is destroying him, we may even come to see our lives as similarly unhealthy.
For the Christian raised in the world and immersed in the culture of the world, the idea of relationship depth (either with God or others) can seem so alien as to be unsettling. It may be that only as the word of God works in one’s heart and mind over time that truth can be recognized and then tolerated and finally sought.
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