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The importance of connection

The importance of connection

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Good day family,
I would like to take a moment to say thank you for taking the time to read this CONNECT POINT and for Sharing it with your friends and family members. In our current sermon series entitled “WHAT IF…?” I’ve been trying to show you that God wants us to LOVE like JESUS and to CONNECT like Jesus. However, since the pandemic began back in March 2020 both of these two things have become more and more challenging.

I’m pretty sure that you would agree with me that there are many unique people in the world, aren’t there? In fact, we’re unique in how we look, how we talk, and how we interact with others. We also value different things. Recently, I read something about a few people that I, personally, found very odd. The first was about a person named Charlotte Lee. Charlotte is a 32-year-old from Seattle and has acquired more than 5,000 rubber ducks that she stores in her basement. Then there’s another person whose name is Jian Yang. This gentleman has collected more than 6,000 dolls and has spent almost $400,000 on his hobby. Then there’s Becky Martz, she has amassed over 8,000 stickers off of bananas she’s bought at the grocery store. LOL.

I think I just proved my point that we like and value different things. (And some of those things are stranger than others.) But here’s something else that I’ve noticed and for this one you don’t need Alexa or Google. We don’t need to search very far to find people unlike you. Look around! Every day we encounter people with different stories. Different backgrounds. Different differences. And these differences can be good things, right? They add variety. They make things interesting.

But differences can be stumbling blocks, too.

  • If people have different political views than you, that’s a problem, right?
  • If someone’s son plays on your son’s rival football team, that’s an obstacle, isn’t it?
  • If other people have an opinion about your life, that’s a TOTAL stumbling block, amen?

Face enough relational drama, and it makes living on a desert island seem like a great option.
I get it. Relationships are difficult. ALL of them. But here’s what I also get: God designed us for something different. Something challenging, but something good. God designed us for community.
Community is about more than the neighborhood or city you live in. It’s about intimacy and friendship. But it’s even more than that, too. It’s a commitment to helping and bettering people, even when it’s inconvenient and frustrating. Community is about connecting like Jesus.

In our lives, we all face setbacks, distractions, mistakes, relational drama, doubt and now we can add a GLOBAL PANDEMIC to our lifelong resume…
Can you imagine the stories we will have to share with our great-grandchildren 20 or 30 years from now? Family, one of the lessons that I’ve learned as I navigate and pastor people through these uncharted waters called COVID 19 is our need to CONNECT with others in a personal, intimate way. Just this week I’ve been asked to pray and be a support for 2 different families who are hurting and broken because one of their family members tried to take their lives and one of these people actually succeeded. In a recent conversation with someone who works in the health care system told me that sexually transmitted diseases have skyrocketed since the pandemic and those suffering from depression and anxiety is at level that the world have never experienced before, not even in the Great Depression.

Please understand I’m not telling you this sad story to cause you to FEAR but rather I’m telling you these things to remind us: YOU need HEALTHY CONNECTION and a SUPPORT SYSTEM.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul shows us how important it is for us to find support in others during tough times. He knew that in order to keep going, stand strong, and persevere, his readers—the early followers of Jesus—would have to CONNECT together:
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
This verse highlights our need for community with other Christians. The author of Hebrews calls it “meeting together.” Why? So, you can grow in your relationship with God. So, you can grow as a parent, son, daughter, friend, employee, teacher, caregiver, etc. So, you can process confusing situations and emotions with people who care about you.
THAT’S WHY WE MUST CONNECT. Because there is safety in numbers. You need support. You need conversations with and encouragement from other Christians who care about you. So, I’m asking you to consider 2 things. First, start reaching out to the people around you on a regular basis…the neighbor down the hall, across the street, the co-worker in the next office etc. The second thing I’m asking you to do is to consider leading a CONNECT group and/or joining a CONNECT group in the new year. If current restrictions stay in place this can be done virtually and will be needed more than ever.
See, a connect group is meant to be an easy place for people to CONNECT with a support system. Here are a few things I’ve learned about a connect group…

  • At times, connect groups are messy and there are moments when relationships get complicated. The reason for this is because people aren’t perfect. And neither are you. There will be issues. And while messy is inconvenient, it’s also what God has in mind for us—to make our relationship with Him about caring for the messy people He loves.
  • At times, connect groups will be confusing. There isn’t a formula we can follow telling us what each person needs. There’s no manual for how to handle everyone in your connect group. And there will be times when wires get crossed, but that’s okay, too. God calls us to make life about the confusing people He loves. 
  • At times, connect groups will be draining. Figuring out how to live in community can be exhausting. And sometimes, it feels pointless. But God calls us to make it about the bleeding people He loves.

The truth is, living in community with one another requires something of us. It requires patience. It requires mercy. It requires GRACE (for us and from us). But without community, life just isn’t as much fun. It’s not as rich. It’s not as purpose-filled. And moreover, it’s not what God designed for us. God designed us to live in community. Maybe this might help you understand what I mean. I’m not a huge sports fans unless my team is winning. LOL. But I’ve had a few experiences both in-person and with the men’s group from church, to watch the Super Bowl, and something magical happens when the home team wins! Maybe it was a close game or match, and in those last few seconds, the tension in the room is tangible. But when the buzzer to end the game sounded, what happened? The crowd went wild, right? The energy released in that moment was immeasurable. It was electric. You get caught up in it—and you may not even care who won or lost.
Now imagine that same game with one person in the stadium. Not quite the same effect, right? That’s because things are better when they’re done together. When life is lived in community, it’s richer. It’s deeper. It moves you.

So, my hope today is that you will CONNECT with someone who you’ve never CONNECTED with before or maybe you will take the time to re-connect because YOU are called and anointed by God to EMPOWER EVERY PERSON TO LOVE-CONNECT-SERVE.

Much Love

Bishop Burton

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