Long distance relationships have always seemed to be a horrible idea to me. The thought of them brings me back to middle school with my summer girlfriend. Somewhere between the long pauses of silence and awkward drawn out goodbyes I began to realize I was not cut out for such disconnected attempts at friendship over the phone.
Ironically, the Lord has called me into missions, a life where long distance relationships are so essential. However, he has not only called me into missions but he has called you into a particular role in missions, even if that means staying home. Consider for a moment how much of Paul’s ministry was done by “mail” and “short term trips.” Interestingly Paul does not seem to have difficulty connecting with these churches he is in relationship with. Rather he is caught up in what he refers to as their “partnership in the Gospel.” (Philippians 1:5) Missions organizations have began to use this term “partnership” to describe the church-to-church relationship building across cultures. Missions is more than an individual missionary pioneering, it is about the global church laboring together for the sake of the gospel. Here is a sampling of what our Vision Trip team, headed to Asia later this month, has discovered about partnership from the book of Philippians.
-Our relationship to each other, which is sealed by our union with Christ
-Partaking of grace together
-Fellowship in one Spirit
-Mutual passion and affection
-Mutual commitment to one another (prayer, encouragement, etc)
-Suffering together for the sake of Christ
-Rejoicing together for the sake of Christ
-A commitment to building one another up
-Sending and receiving of fellow laborers in the gospel
-Caring for one another’s material needs
-Representing Christ to one another
-Weeping together over those who have wondered from the faith
-The imitation of leaders
-United by our heavenly citizenship
At the end of the day, long distance relationships may still be difficult. Yet by God’s grace we are called into a deep intimate relationship with God and our brothers and sisters around the world. This is the joy of missions: that we are granted the opportunity to labor together. As we grasp the depth of our oneness in Christ we will be able to celebrate and savor these God-given relationships that will last through eternity.
Scripture affirms this calling to our worldwide partnership with His Church:
“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father.”
Paul (Ephesians 4:4-6)
“There will be one flock, one shepherd.”
Jesus (John 10:16)
The reformers saw this worldwide partnership of the church as well:
Calvin commenting on John 10:16 says, “Now though this flock appears to be divided into different folds, yet they are kept within enclosures which are common to all believers who are scattered throughout the whole world; because the same word is preached to all, they use the same sacraments, they have the same order of prayer, and every thing that belongs to the profession of faith.”
Happily, there are Uptown Church summer partnership opportunities for you!
1) Pray for the Vision Trip to Malaysia, June 24th-July 4th
- Specifically pray for a deepened relationship with Uptown and City Discipleship Presbyterian Church (CDPC)
- Pray for discernment among those going to considering moving to Malaysia
2) Host, befriend, and support Ian (Uptown’s next church planter to Malaysia) and his family while they are in the Charlotte August 3rd-22nd
3) Host, befriend, and participate in mercy ministry in Charlotte with our Malaysian brothers and sisters, during the Uptown Church City Project, August 7th-15th