Knowing Those Who Labor Amongst Us

It has been a while since I have blogged.  As I expected a recent Face Book post really hit home with about 50 people responding and many more liking the post. I decided to write something about it as the Lord started speaking to me on this subject today. Perhaps this will help with the reasoning behind my post. It is the area of relationships, truly knowing a person and being able to pray and decree over their life effectively. Paul said I know no man after the flesh. (after what I observe or perceive, or have heard, or even see)

It seems there is an epidemic of real relationships in the Body concerning truly knowing people, yet almost all the postings on my status came from people outside my region who do really know me in ways those geographically close do not. I find this interesting that my deepest relationships are really with those a long distance from me and those leaders I know also have said the same thing to me. Polling says over 80% of all pastors have no close friend to share their struggles with and 85% say the ministry has been detrimental to their families.

I believe this is because we don’t really have apostolic Kingdom-based relationships with those who can truly help us and with those whom God has placed close to us. There are several factors at work here and I will try and expose a few of them. We really need to ask God “Who is this person to you?” This has been my practice for years when meeting people or seeing how they do certain things. It is looking past all the quirkiness. It is the only way you can develop people, it is by having God’s vision for them. It also is the only way to really know them spiritually.

First of all, long distance deep relationships are not threatening. Both have nothing to really gain but the relationship itself. Mutual commitment is required and the value system is different. Biblically, trans-local relationships held the greatest value and honor and appreciation was often seen. Familiarity breeds a lack of real respect. I find it amazing how easily I can minister when traveling and things are received, while the same things may not be received or embraced regionally.

Long distance relationships seem to have more of an alliance and covenant feeling than local relationships. Tolerance on a local level for the sake of unity versus celebration for the sake of Kingdom advance seems to be the parallel. As Barbara Wentroble once said, “you need to go where your gift is celebrated not tolerated”. The only way we can celebrate someone is to truly know their life. We do not know people by a monthly meeting, planning activities, or coming together with an event. The Biblical way of knowing someone is by doing ministry together. This is why the translocal seems to work at deepening relationships because they generally are called in to co-labor. Locally, we do not do ministry together but do events together with a little ministry attached to it.

Jesus could pray effectively for His disciples because He knew them. He knew how they moved in ministering and how they responded to the struggles in life.  Later we see Paul also praying “for what was lacking to perfect their faith” and to “establish their hearts in love”. You don’t know what to pray for unless you really know the person. Recently in an open Q & A that my wife and I did with our ministry, my spiritual daughter asked the question, “How can we pray for you?” It was so refreshing and actually caught my wife and me off guard. When was the last time someone locally asked you that question? I tell you over the years so many have made assumptions on what to pray over me and told me later how they were praying and some of it was pretty screwed up.  

From my recent Face Book post, I received several calls and responses. Some called out of concern and others called to encourage. Some called just to talk about other things, but it prompted them that they had relationship with me and needed to touch base again, not wanting to lose what had been formed. What seemed interesting is about 80% of those who did respond to the post are leaders experiencing the same things who are on the front lines of ministry to bring awakening and transformation.

You see, it seems we need each other more than we realize. All relationships are ordained by God, either for a season, a moment or for life. But all relationships are to be maintained by men. Some relationships shift as assignments and maturity continues. New ones come. Some need to be let loose of. Those that are formed deep in the heart are not lost but continue to grow. We need to move from relationships that are soulish based on what we experience in meetings and events, to what we experience in the spiritual realm as we minister together. On local levels, the deep relationships will probably not occur unless we start working together DOING MINISTRY.

1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 (KJV 1900) — 12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

 The Bible says we are to know those who labor among us. The word ‘know’ means ‘to perceive with all the senses’. It means ‘to be apprehended’ and ‘to recognize’. In theological context, the word is not talking about knowing Christ or His workings upon the earth, but knowing Him from an eternal perception! It is not abstract knowledge but a real knowing of mission and purposes. It means to experience the same state or condition. It continues to deepen that the understanding is not natural as the Bible says to ‘know no man after the flesh’. It continues in meaning to know the force and the meaning of the force and what it will do and the defined purpose it will accomplish!

From this, we see why trans-local relationships seem to work. We understand the force that a person brings. We understand the purpose of that life. We see what they carry is eternal. But is the real intention of God that only trans-local is seen this way? Looking at the above verse, it says “among you”. The word ‘among’ is a Greek word to put emphasis on certain things. It is the word EN, or what we say as “in”. It means ‘fixed position in time and place.’  It means ‘to be instrumental in implementation and construction.

If we take the context of this verse and look at the original meaning, it actually is saying that God has placed people “in” our lives (fixed in position in time and place) on a local level who are instrumental in the construction of the Kingdom. They are fixed in position and have a certain force that is to be released to help build us. They are on a mission that is eternal. If we would embrace them to not hold them back but embrace them to truly release them, the effect would be upon all of our lives and felt by all.     The early church embraced the apostles and the outcome was felt. The 12 embraced Jesus and the outcome was felt. We need to stop the foolishness of some of our actions that we think are building relationships until we really know each other in the Spirit and then see what God would do!

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