The other day I was talking to an acquaintance that I’ve known for over 15 years. The conversation was cordial, as usual. But it was pretty much a surface conversation. You would think that after knowing each other for so long our conversations would have some depth to them. But they never have.
Don’t get me wrong. I have great respect for this person. And I don’t expect all my relationships to be deep. But for some reason, our relationship has never gone beyond shallow conversation. No matter what I do to encourage deeper communication, there seems to be something there that just doesn’t let it grow.
Have you ever known anyone like this? Perhaps it describes you. If you’re not a deep person and really like to keep things light, most of your relationships may be like this. You may enjoy small talk. And you may not want to have deep relationships.
Let’s face it. There seems to be a lot of safety in shallow relationships. After all, you never have to be vulnerable. You never have to reveal who you really are. And you never have to worry about other people betraying who you are. As unreliable as most people seem to be today, this sounds like the perfect place to be.
But it’s not. Deep inside each of us is a desire to have rich, fulfilling relationships. Ephesians 4 tells us that all believers in Christ are part of His body and we have a role within that body. Our role is to equip the saints and to build up the body. And the goal for our work is to labor for the body to attain maturity (verses 12-13).
The Greek word used in verse 13 for maturity actually means “complete,” and, according to Strong’s Concordance, it refers to “various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.” In other words, every part of the body must be complete, whether you’re talking about your mind, will, and emotions, or your works and labors. All of us must strive toward maturity.
When we remain shallow, we withhold parts of our own life from being completed. We hide it. We leave them to lurk in the shadows, where no growth can occur. And where growth doesn’t take place, death is close behind.
I believe Judas was just such a man. He never really grasped what Jesus was about. When the expensive perfume was poured on Christ’s feet, he completely missed the depth of love the woman had for Christ. The gift showed her vulnerability. It showed her deep devotion to Jesus. But Judas wanted the money to give to the poor — a noble pursuit, but it showed his lack of depth in relationships.
And, ironically, his shallowness led to betrayal and death. While so many try to protect themselves from others by keeping things shallow, they actually set themselves up to betray others or to be betrayed themselves.
Real safety lies in deep, rich relationships. No, they won’t completely protect you in this life. People still make mistakes — even those we love dearly. But the deeper your relationships go (beginning with Christ), the more joy you’ll experience in your time on earth. And you’ll lay up treasures in heaven as well. After all, the only thing you can take to heaven with you is your relationship with Christ and your relationships with other believers.
Remember, the goal is to help the body of Christ attain maturity. Like the farmer who toils over his crops, it takes work and effort. You have to be available to do the work. You have to pursue others. And you have to water the relationships regularly. A patient farmer who works hard will have a tremendous harvest. But a passive farmer rarely sees success.