Needing to Be Needed

The following is a snippet from my book (see sidebar). The time is after our commitment to each other, while I was in college and Marj was at our home area of Flourtown:

The semester proved to be rough on our relationship. We exchanged letters weekly, and every few weekends, we visited each other either in Flourtown or at Lafayette. Somehow, though, it just wasn’t the same as the summer. Our times together felt awkward and uncomfortable.

The pressures of our studies weighed upon us, of course. Additionally, she suffered a few weeks of sickness, which caused her to fall behind and miss a couple of tests. Our busyness stressed our weekends together.

As time went on, we sensed walls building up between us, which caused us to become sad and discouraged.

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Watson Hall, where I lived my last year on campus at Lafayette College

Early in November, she came up for a Friday night InterVarsity Square Dance I’d organized for the fellowship, and then stayed for the weekend. Despite the study pressures, we were able to carve out some time Sunday afternoon.

 

“Let’s do our Bible study time,” I suggested, so we turned to 1 John 4:19-21 and read, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: that he who loves God should love his brother also.”

Marj noted how many times the passage used the word “love” in reference to both God and fellow Christians. “You have to have both,” she concluded.

“Al Lewis, an elder from the Church in Harmony, taught on this one time at a fellowship meeting,” I recalled, “‘It’s like the capital letter in the word Love,’ he said. ‘If you just have relationships with other Christians, and draw a line from you to the other, it is like the bottom of the L, flat and meaningless. Many Christians live this way and have a superficial Christian faith, dependent on others. On the other hand, if you have a relationship with God and ignore other Christians, then you and God form the upright side of the L, which is the word for ego. This Christian puts himself above others, as if he doesn’t need them, because he acts as if he has a perfect relationship with God. However, if you love God and love others you form the for love. And you have the balance between the two, not superficial and not arrogant.’ I thought that was good stuff!”

l for love“It is,” she commented and then asked, “So how do you think we are doing with the concept? For example, do you think you need me?”

“Of course, I do.” I quickly responded, “I am miserable when you aren’t around.”

“How about when I am around, how do you need me?” she asked.

I had to ponder that one, so she continued, “When we are together, you have the plan and you carry it through and I just do as you suggest. How do you think that makes me feel?”

“Cared for?” I optimistically suggested.

“No, I am afraid not. More often, I feel like I don’t have anything to contribute.”

“But you do,” I interjected.

“I know, but you don’t communicate that. You don’t show that. I really need to know I have something to offer that you need.”

“So you need to be needed,” I reflected.

“Yes, that’s exactly it! I need to be needed.”

unknown“Wow, I never thought of that.” Light bulbs were going on in my head. “I am sorry I didn’t realize it. I have been so busy trying to be the leader in our relationship; I have neglected you and your feelings. You know it’s hard to depend on your contributions because then I would have to admit I need them and that is humbling. I guess I have been the independent of the L. Marj, how long have you felt this way?”

“Quite awhile, maybe most of the semester.”

“Why didn’t you say anything to me?”

“I am sorry. I guess I was afraid to. I was guarding myself and not letting you in; I was afraid you would reject me. And as we drifted apart, I felt that even more.”

“And once the independence from each other creeps in,” I continued her line of thought, “we each react to it in each other. Marj, I needed to be needed by you, too. I need you to take the risk, be willing to die to yourself, as I must do, and let me in. We both need to let the other one in. Doubts grow while we are apart, so we need to risk when we are together.”

For the rest of the afternoon, we continued discussing the implications for us of the idea of “needing to be needed.” As Christians, we were taught that we shouldn’t seek to meet our own needs, but the needs of others. However, if we don’t let others in, then nobody’s needs can be met. Really, the vision of scripture is mutuality—everybody meeting each other’s needs. So we have to admit our needs to one another, we concluded.

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The Church Will Prevail

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Fontana Christian Fellowship Church

It’s a sad situation in the church today, isn’t it?

The big news recently has been the amount of abuse in the Catholic Church. Just in the state of Pennsylvania, there have been over 1000 victims of 300 different priests in the last 70 years. Almost all of them were minor boys or girls, many of whom when they tried to tell others were not believed. When it was found to be true, it was covered up and allowed to continue.

Also, recently there have been similar situations in strong evangelical churches. One was the huge Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area, one of the most influential amongst evangelical churches in the United States. Their founding senior pastor who was about to retire, left early under a cloud of accusations from women that he allegedly harassed sexually.

And what has happened to the Colsons, and Falwells? They were respected Bible believing leaders, who were speaking out for the issues of our times. There was no scandal with them, they just lost their ministries to death or old age. But who is rising up to take their place? Certainly, there are a few others speaking up, but they don’t have the influence that their prior generation had.

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Billy Graham preaching to 1000s.

The political battles haven’t gone our way and we have lost the good reputation we once had. It seems the evangelical movement has decided to just preach the gospel and not worry about the old issues.

But even in the realm of evangelism, we don’t hear of big Billy Graham Crusades any more or even big gatherings of believers like the Promise Keepers Movement. What’s happening to the church these days?

Even in the little corner of the universe of my church, things haven’t been going so well. At one point in the 80’s our congregation was well over 300, now we barely make 20 on a Sunday morning. We’ve seen the decline over the years as people left one or two at a time or in bigger groups because of some divisive issue in the church. It’s easy to throw up our hands and give up.

The evil one has certainly made inroads into the church worldwide. Nowadays there is not much difference between the world and the church, the same problems popping up in both.

peter-the-rockBut it’s interesting what Jesus says in Matthew 16:18 (ESV), “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He doesn’t say, “You will build the church on me and it will prevail. No, he says He’s building it on Peter. (Of course, there is a play on his name as “Peter” is close to the original word for “rock.”) Continue reading