Incomplete Loves and True Fellowship

By James Robison Published on February 27, 2015

JAMES ROBISON — Beth Moore, a wonderful friend and teacher on our television program LIFE Today, has a border collie named Star. She describes the cherished pet as her “best buddy” and relates a story to illustrate an insightful biblical truth.

Since Beth’s ministry has its own office building, Beth frequently takes Star to work with her. This breed is prone to substantial obsessive-compulsive issues, so they tend to fixate on their owner. In a very real way, Beth “completes” Star. The collie stares at her all the time. She sleeps where she sees Beth as soon as she opens her eyes. She puts her head down and tries to herd Beth so that she will go where Star desires. When she accompanies her owner to work, Star stares at Beth all day while she’s working.

Beth’s staff love Star and consider her “the staff mascot.” But once, when Beth had to leave the office for a few hours, her staff had some difficulty in babysitting the dog. After Beth left, they brought Star to the floor where the whole administrative team works. Star went from office to office, greeting everyone (or perhaps looking for Beth), then began to whine. Beth’s coworkers couldn’t ignore her cries or calm her down. Finally, they decided to play a DVD of Beth teaching and sat Star right in front of the television. When Beth returned, Star was still fixated on the television screen, watching her master’s every move.

That humorous illustration provides insight into human relationships. One of our biggest frustrations in life comes from the incomplete love we experience when we put our hopes for completion and fulfillment into people, experiences, or things. An incomplete love almost fulfills us, but still leaves us yearning for more. These incomplete loves are wonderful gifts from God, but there is nothing on this planet that can truly complete us.

As people, there is something very healthy about finding support from others during difficult times. We need it for comfort, affirmation and, sometimes, healing. This “fellowship of suffering” is a beautiful thing because it connects us with others who have experienced the same sort of pain. You get to know someone well enough that you feel like you can honestly say, “Yes, I totally get that because I’ve been through every single bit of it!”

However, if you stay close enough to that person, sooner or later you will come to a place of disappointment and departure. Sometimes, you feel very alone at this point because you thought you had found someone who completely understood you. Then it begins to occur to you, he or she can’t “go there” with you 100% because you’re processing everything through your own personal history. Only you grew up in your family and felt what you felt and experienced what you experienced.

The Bible says, “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. . . . But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” (Jeremiah 17:5, 7)

Many animals are herd animals. Gazelles on the African plain stick together. Canadian Geese migrate back and forth together from season to season. Sheep, cattle, horses and other animals find a level of safety, direction, and comfort by sticking together. Yet, all of them are susceptible to predators despite their numbers. If we as humans stick together and rely solely on each other, we can eventually fall prey to our enemy, Satan, who always lurks nearby “as a roaring lion.”

He can, in dark moments, separate us from the pack, but he can never drive Jesus away from us. So each of us has to get to the place where it’s just me and Jesus. Church life is vital, but it must be enriched and completed by a personal, prayerful walk with our Savior and friend.

Proverbs 14:10 tells us, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.”

Nobody else can enter into the intimacy of everything the way Jesus can. A huge part of our emotional well-being comes from reaching this place. We can let a lot of people off the hook for not being Jesus to us — for not being able to read our minds or emotions. God is the only one who truly completely “gets us” because He knows the intimate ways of our mind and heart, He even has seen and knows things that we don’t even remember. “For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.” (Isaiah 52:12b)

This is not to say that we detach from others. God puts people in our life so that we can journey together, shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow, and share experiences. Koinonia is a Greek word in the Bible that means “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” Christian fellowship is an important and necessary part of the Christian life, but it’s not simply the casual gathering of people in a church building. True fellowship is predicated upon a common belief in Jesus Christ, then enacted in an active pursuit of a common spiritual goal and bond. It is the shared experience of life as a true follower of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:1-2 says:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Koinonia unites believers under the lordship of Jesus Christ and provides the environment to grow spiritually and fulfill God’s purpose in our life. Fellowship is a gift from God, but it is not a substitute for a one-on-one relationship with Him.

Any love outside of God is an incomplete love. Beth’s collie may find purpose through her owner, but such fulfillment is not sufficient for humans. Only God can truly satisfy.

 

Adapted, with permission, from God of all Creation, James Robison, Waterbook Press, 2012.

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