At a men’s retreat, after I (Neil) spoke on the importance of being willing to forgive others, two brothers approached me. Both had once been married and had remarried, and one of the brothers hadn’t been to church for seven years. He said, “Neil, my problem is canonicity [a reference to the process by which early Christian leaders could determine which books belonged in the Bible]. I have read seven books on the closing of the canon, and I just can’t accept what evangelicals say about this.”
I had no idea there were seven books on the subject, but I also knew that his real struggle had nothing to do with the closing of the canon. I got off the subject as fast as I could and got to what he was really struggling with, which turned out to be his need to come to terms with his past. He had never known his birth father, and his stepfather had never spent time with him. Thus he had never had a father. The result was that he had never developed close relationships with anyone. The same was true about his brother.
Those men are not alone; there are many people who have never learned to relate to others on a personal basis. I soon learned that the brothers had never experienced any sense of intimacy with their spouses or with other Christians, much less God. For them, church was an academic exercise, and marriage was nothing more than two people living in the same house. One brother had already left the church and both were in danger of losing their second marriages-all because they had never known any bonding relationships. When I explained the necessity of relating intimately with God and one another, the one brother who hadn’t left the church decided the conversation was getting too personal. So he left. The other brother knew in his heart that intimacy was what he had lacked in his church experience and his present as well as failed marriage.
That night he had an encounter with God in a way he had never known before. The next morning he was still red-eyed from repenting, forgiving, and connecting with His heavenly Father. He asked to share his heart with the rest of the men through music. By the time he was done, there wasn’t a dry eye in the camp. This dear man, like too many children of God, had kept other Christians and family members at arm’s length.
When we do that, we rob ourselves and others of what God has given to the body of Christ, which can be received only as we relate to one another.
Taken from: The Common Made Holy by Neil T. Anderson & Robert L. Saucy. Copyright © 1998 by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, p. 297-298. Used by Permission