"Healthy distance protects us from false intimacy. It protects us from the illusion that we actually have relationships with people we've never met or with places we've never been. False intimacy is one of the great temptations of an age that prides itself on technology that eliminates distance. It is also one of the great dangers of mission." Kris Rocke, Center for Transforming Mission.
False intimacy. In an era of "meaningful relationships" morphing into virtual relationships, I was struck by Rocke's comment. Relationship is so close to the heart of the Gospel and so close to the heart of the process of becoming like Jesus. God chooses to have a relationship with us, and thus to work in and through us. And it's becoming more and more clear to me that when we desire to be helpful, or show compassion, or bring about change in someone's life, we need to do that in relationship, not in a vacuum.
False intimacy with the poor is always a pitfall for those who want to reduce poverty. We can flaunt our relationships like a credential, or a validation of our commitment. We can pretend to have the right to "represent" or to speak for others. We can claim we are serving the poor when we are really serving our own interests. Friending on Facebook doesn't make a friend. Offering help to someone doesn't make a friend. False intimacy is one of the great dangers of mission. What kind of intimacy makes us true missionaries? In our families? In our neighborhoods? In our global outreach? What do you think?