For many of us, isolation and self-protection are a regular part of our lives. However, growing deeper with God and others often requires us to be relational beings. 

Jim Putman helps us discover the power, joy, and reward in experiencing life together when we’re following Jesus as His relational disciples. Jim points out that there is a connection between spiritual maturity and relationships.

“People tend to think that maturity is how much you know, that maturity is maybe even how much you sacrifice and give away, or maybe maturity is how skilled and gifted you are using the gifts that God has given you.”

While Jim believes that all of those things are true in part, they still miss the mark on what it means to follow Christ and be in relationship with one another.

“There’s these people that think they’re mature because they know a lot and they’re skilled, but a true follower of Jesus is someone who loves, and not just loves, but allows others to love them.  They are relational people. Jesus is the king of relationship and the Holy Spirit, all the fruit of the Spirit, is relational fruit.”

Jim says that the fruit of the Spirit should lead us in how to demonstrate and receive Christs’ love towards others.

“Love, for who? Peace, with who? Patience, towards who? Kindness, towards who? Gentleness, towards who?”

The Scriptures affirm God’s desire for us to be in relationship with Himself, and with one another through the power of Jesus Christ.

1 John says, if you walk in the light as he is in the light, walk with Jesus, then you have fellowship; deep abiding relationship with one another and that’s two sided. That means I’m honest, I confess my sins one to another, I’m honest about what burdens I have so that you can help me carry them, and you’re honest with me so that I can help you carry them.”

Jim speaks to the importance of accountability through relationships and how it plays a role in our spiritual maturity.

“If you don’t create a culture of honesty, transparency, and support, you can’t hold somebody accountable if you don’t know don’t know what’s really going on. If you haven’t built a relationship with them so you can hold them accountable, then there’s no accountability.”

“Without real relationship, not only do you not experience the benefits of what God intended for us to experience through the faith, but you’re not mature in the faith.”

“The problem is we’ve celebrated in our culture a bunch of people that know a lot and can do a lot, but they’re not really known by others and they don’t really know others. They kind of have this “Jesus in me” mentality and because we celebrate that – as the head goes the body follows – people aspire to whatever we celebrate.”

We are encouraged to get involved and celebrate our relationships with one another, rather than staying in isolation. This will help us to become better disciples of Jesus Christ and mature spiritually.

Jim Putman is the senior pastor of Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho, one of the most influential churches in America. He is the author of  and , as well as the widely adopted Real-Life Discipleship program.

Relational discipleship
Also on this edition of Neil Stavem
Sheila Heen on having difficult conversations

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