In their book How People Change, Paul Tripp and Tim Lane discuss how we as Christians are meant to grow and change within a community of believers. When we are born again, we are placed into a body, and it is within that context that we are sanctified.
There are things that may inhibit us from actively searching out that community aspect of our lives in Christ. Tripp and Lane point out that there are obstacles in building relationships:
- The busyness of life, keeping relationships distant and casual.
- A total immersion in friendships that are activity-and-happiness based.
- A conscious avoidance of close relationships as too scary and messy.
- A formal commitment to church activities, with no real connection to people.
- One-way, ministry-driven friendships in which you always minister to others, but never allow others to minister to you.
- Self-centered, "meet my felt needs" relationships that keep you always receiving, but seldom giving.
- A private, independent, "just me and God" approach to the Christian life.
- Theology as a replacement for relationship. Knowing God as a life of study, than the pursuit of God and his people.
I fall prey to some of these situations.
I would also add fear to this list, and specifically a fear of failure. There have been many occasions when I have had a failed friendship, and I have concluded that I'm not "cut out for" friendships, especially with women. We can allow our fears to interfere with our relationships, and then fall into the "just me and God" situation they speak of.
Evaluating our attitude to our relationships is always a good exercise, even if it is a little uncomfortable at times.