“Flourishing in Relationships” with Carlos Ortiz

“Flourishing in Relationships” with Carlos Ortiz

According to the The Human Flourishing Program, a quantitative social science endeavor based out of Harvard University, there are three types of institutional commitments we should understand and seek out:

  1. The good of the person/family
  2. The good of the world 
  3. The transcendent or divine 

I know some of us heard “Harvard University” and we automatically think secular, not religious.  But this scientific research is fascinating because it undergirds what we already endeavor to do, to have our faith community be a place where the soil is fertile and a catalyst for one to flourish.

As a matter of fact, one of the contributors, Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, emphasizes that it is not JUST being part of a church that matters, it is the frequency that one engages that community that matters.  

The science shows that higher frequency overall leads to more self-discipline, social health, times of meditation and solitude, lower rates of tobacco use,etc….  What I enjoyed about his talk from a few years ago is that he distinguishes between association and causation.  We can assume that these stats are there because of mere association with a church or a faith community, but in fact the stats are tied to causation.  

You have to know. I’m not talking about cultural Christianity or American churchianity which can get mixed up in politics from either the left or the right. We are going for a community of people who are on a journey exploring what it means to have a deep and real relationship with God and together bringing more of heaven to earth where we live and where we work.

Only “coming to church on an occasional Sunday” will not make you a better person, we have to be “engaged” in order to experience change and growth. Even calling Gateway your faith community will not land you a better job.  However, what can cause you to be a better citizen of the world bringing truth and justice to wherever you live, is the frequency by which you and I engage the God we say we believe in, and others who believe the same.  

Now all of that is well and good, but we would not be leading you well if we did not spend the rest of our time diving into scripture and what God says about us flourishing.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 – 5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;  they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I did a quick interpretation of verse 5 with a deep dive into how it would be interpreted literally with a Hebrew lens and it would go something like this: 

“Cursed  is the one who trusts  in man who draws strength  from mere flesh

’Ārar                  geber       bāṭaḥ      ’ādām                     zᵉrôaʽ                         bāśār

 and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

                      lēb    sûr                              YHWH

We place a curse on ourselves when we put our confidence in human systems, when we stand shoulder to shoulder with other human mortals, and allow our inner selves to leave the one who caused us to exist. 

So now verse 6 makes total sense: 

6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;  they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. So according to this passage, how do we flourish in our relationship with God? How do we know if we are flourishing? Let’s read again what it sounds like to flourish: 7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

How do we know if we are flourishing? 

  1. Where is our confidence? 
  2. Where are we planted? 
  3. Are our roots growing deep? 
  4. What role does fear play in our life? 
  5. Are we bearing fruit? 

Proverbs 4:23 – My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Are you flourishing?

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