了解別人

我的一位朋友大偉告訴另一位朋友愛德華說,他想要更了解朋友且與人成為更好的朋友。幾天後,大偉收到一個包裹,裡面是愛德華親筆簽名的自傳。包裹裡還附了一張紙條,說這本書可讓大偉知道一切他想要了解的事。若他有任何問題,可以隨時打電話問。大偉覺得被誤解了,他要的是關係,而不是資訊。

我也寫了一本自傳,裡面廣泛地寫到許多關於我的各種不同層面。雖然我猜想我的多數朋友都讀過我的自傳,但我絕不會把讀自傳與友誼或意義深長的關係混淆。

分享時間與經驗。關係是要建立在分享的經驗和時間中,而不只是靠資訊。這種情況我們也可在聖經中找到。上帝也寫下了類似自傳的書。在新約中聖經說:「聖經都是神所默示的,於教訓、督責、使人歸正、教導人學義都是有益的」(提摩太後書3章16節)。和大部份自傳一樣,聖經中的66卷書包含歷史、教導、詩文以及對於這作者的真知灼見。然而閱讀有關上帝和祂作為的書應該不可與祂建立真正的關係混淆。我們不應敬拜祂的書勝過敬拜祂,或勝過花時間與祂共處。

我的母親也寫了她的回憶錄,我很喜歡讀。但我對她的愛勝過我愛她的書。讀過她的書使我更了解她,也更清楚在她生命中所經歷的一些事。但我從她書中所知道的並不能定義我們的關係。

關係需要努力。在職場中,我們可以交換語音信件和電子郵件,但那並不一定能發展有效且愉快的工作關係。那需要投資時間、精力及對別人感興趣且關心。你一定不會去應徵一個工作或拜訪一位可能的客戶時就馬上說:「讓我們不要浪費時間了解彼此,只要讀我這本書,你就可以認識我。」

與上帝也一樣,若沒有研讀聖經,我很難了解祂。但我和上帝的關係是另一回事。我必須花時間與祂在一起,並與祂分享我的生命。事實上,耶穌也教訓我們:「你們要常在我裡面,我也常在你們裡面」(約翰福音15章4節),祂應許我們若這麼做,我們就能結果子討祂喜悅。

展現我們所知道的。讓我困惑的是我認識有些最虔誠的人不太了解聖經,而有些擁有許多聖經知識的人卻很少對人展現愛心與憐憫,這些都是與上帝關係親密之人應有的品格。

因此,身為工商人、丈夫、兒子、藝術家和音樂家,我試著維持平衡。藉著研讀聖經認識上帝,但不僅是研讀而錯失了與祂建立關係或不願實踐祂的旨意。

思想 / 討論題目
若有一個你想更了解的人給你一本關於他的書,認為你可藉由那本書更認識他,你會如何回應? 你認為在職場中建立友情會有什麼益處和挑戰? 列出你生命中最重要的人際關係,包括家人、朋友和同事;並想想你用什麼方法去維持那些關係。你是盡你所能地那麼做,或者覺得你應該那麼做? 你是否覺得你與上帝有獨特、成長的關係,那關係不僅止於參加崇拜或花幾分鐘讀聖經?請解釋。若你想看看或討論聖經中有關此議題的其他經文,請翻閱以下經節:
箴言27章17節;傳道書4章9-12節;約翰福音13章34-35節;哥林多前書3章9節;希伯來書10章24-25節;約翰一書3章11-18節

THE POWER OF GETTING TO KNOW OTHERS

By: Jim Mathis

A friend of mine, Dave, told another friend, Edward, that he would like to get better acquainted and become better friends. Several days later, Dave received an autographed copy of Edward”s autobiography in the mail. The book was accompanied by a note suggesting it would tell Dave whatever he wanted to know. If he had any questions, Edward wrote, he should feel free to call. Dave felt understandably rejected. He wanted a relationship, not facts.

I have authored a short autobiographical book and have written extensively on various subjects. However, even though I presume many of my friends have read at least some of what I have written, I would never confuse that kind of activity with friendship or a meaningful relationship.

Shared time and experiences. Relationships are built around shared experiences and time together, not just information. There is a parallel, I believe, in what we find in the Bible. God has written what amounts to an autobiography. In the New Testament, the Bible declares, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). As with most autobiographies, the 66 books of the Bible contain history, some teaching, poetry, and insight into what the Author is all about. Reading about God and all He has done, however, should not be confused with having a genuine relationship with Him. We should not worship His book more than we worship Him or desire to spend time with Him.

My mother has written her memoirs and I have enjoyed the book, but my love for her is far greater than my love for her book. Having read, I have been gotten to know her better, as well as understand more clearly some of the things she has experienced in her life. But what I have learned from her book does not define our relationship.

Relationships take effort. In the workplace, we can exchange voice mails and read e-mails from one another, but those are hardly an acceptable substitute for developing productive and enjoyable working relationships. These require investments of time, energy, and legitimate interest and concern for one another. You certainly would not go into a job interview or meet with a prospective client and declare, “Let”s not bother taking the time to get to know one another. Just read my book – that”s all you need to know about me.”

It is the same with God. I would have a very hard time understanding who He is without reading and studying the Bible. But a relationship with God is different. I must spend quality time with Him and share my life with Him in a significant way. In fact, Jesus instructed, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” (John 15:4), promising in doing so we will live fruitful lives that please Him.

Demonstrating what we know. It puzzles me why some of the most devout people I know do not seem to know much about the Scriptures, while some of the people most knowledgeable about the Bible display very little love or compassion for others, qualities that greatly shape God”s relationship with His people.

For this reason, as a businessman, husband, son, artist and musician, I have tried to maintain a balance, learning about God through the process of studying the Bible, but not becoming so caught up in study that I miss out on a growing relationship with God or fail to become a willing participant in His purposes.

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and recently has opened a school of photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
How would you react if someone you wanted to get to know more personally were to give you a book about himself or herself instead, suggesting that you become better acquainted in that way? What in your view are the benefits – and challenges – of developing worthwhile relationships in the workplace? List the most important relationships in your life – including family, friends, and coworkers – and think about the methods you utilize for sustaining them. Are you doing all that you can – or all that you should be doing? Why or why not? Do you feel that you have a genuine, growing relationship with God, one that extends far beyond attending a worship service or spending a few minutes reading the Bible? Explain your answer. If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:

Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 John 3:11-18

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