Disconnected: What Jesus (and Luke Perry) Teaches Us about Relationships

Like many people, I was shocked and saddened by Luke Perry’s death this week. When celebrities (or anybody!) dies, we are reminded we are not immortal. Our bodies are frail. Money doesn’t guarantee you long life. His death from a stroke reminded me to not take my dad’s survival from a massive stroke several years ago for granted.

Saddened by his death, I was reading an article today about the ways Luke’s friends said goodbye and I noticed a theme.

Jason Priestly wrote, “My dear friend of 29 years, Luke Perry, was one of those truly special people who really cared.

Ian Ziering wrote, “Dearest Luke, I will forever bask in the loving memories we've shared over the last 30 years.”

What Jesus teaches us about relationshipsSo often when someone dies, people lament the loss of a star or celebrity. They write about how the world has lost someone amazing and creative.

But with Luke Perry, his friends were devastated because they obviously had a relationship with him. It wasn’t just some person they crossed paths with, but someone they had a friendship of 30 years with. They mourned him deeply. 

In a time where we have hundreds or thousands of online friends, but often feel isolated and alone (some are coining this generation as the “loneliest generation”), I am convicted again by the importance of spending time and connecting deeply with others.

God built us to exist in a community. We are part of a body of Christ, connected by our love for Jesus. Unfortunately, even in the church, we struggle with connection. We have the obligatory church event or potluck a few times a year, we deliver meals to people after surgery or a new baby, but are we really connected? When was the last time you dropped off a meal just because? When was the last time you invited friends over for coffee and it wasn’t a church-sanctioned Bible study (or jewelry/clothing/Pampered chef party)?

My husband attended a church many years ago where the youth pastor had the same MO. He would invite new students out to lunch and disc golf, then invite them to church. Sounds great, right? Except, the college students realized that as soon as they started coming to church, there weren’t anymore disc golf or lunch invitations. He had moved on to the next new student.

I’m sure in his mind, he felt like he was building relationships with the college students in his church. But many students felt like he was connecting to get you to church, not because he actually cared.

We have to be careful in churches that we are not “connecting” with others because they are new or to "get them to church." Greeting them enthusiastically, taking them to coffee, then dropping them for the next “new” family a few weeks later is not the same as truly connecting with other believers. I’ve heard the justification that “people should connect quickly and make friends in church, so outreach pastors/greeters/welcome desk folks don’t need to stay as connected over time.”

Yes, you do. 

In an ideal world, people would dive into a church family and immediately connect with others. But they don’t. There are so many things that keep us from connecting, so churchgoers attend a few times, and once the coffee invitations and greetings decline, they leave, feeling unloved and confused.

It shouldn’t be this way. Jesus modeled genuine, consistent, deep relationships. He could have moved from community to community, healing people, taking them out to coffee, sharing the love of the Father, then moving on. But he didn’t. He maintained long-term, loving relationships with his disciples. With Mary and Martha (Luke 10:25-42). With Lazarus and his family. He ate meals with others (Luke 5:29-52). He relaxed with others. He listened. He wept with his friends (John 11:35). 

He knew what was happening with Lazarus from far away, but he still traveled to him and wept with his family. When was the last time you wept in person with a friend who was struggling, not just said, “thoughts and prayers” on a post or sent a quick text?

In the last few months, I’ve made a diligent effort to get off my phone and actually be with people. It takes effort. My friends are busy. Some days, I don’t want to talk to anybody, but it’s not about me. It’s about relationships. It’s reaching out through a phone call, leaving a Marco Polo, crawling out of my bed to meet a friend for lunch, sending a Starbucks gift card to a friend who is struggling. And *gasp* not posting all of those pictures on Facebook to show how loving or loved I am. I do those things because it's not about me, it's about them! I love my friends and they need connection. We all do.

When I die (hopefully in like a hundred years), I don’t want my friends to say how awesome I was, how famous I was, what a good writer I was. I want people to have decades of memories with me. Of travels, phone calls, spontaneous backyard BBQs and fun cards sent. I want to be seen as someone that cared. That my caring went beyond liking friends posts or occasionally dropping a text message.

It is an intentional pattern of living. Where we love others more than ourselves.

I challenge you this week to reach out. Set up a coffee date. Go window shopping with a friend. Spend an extra half hour chatting at the end of the workday with a coworker who is struggling. Pray for opportunities to love and connect with others in a deep and genuine way.

And if someone calls you, throw your hair up and go. Meet them. Don’t hide behind excuses. Make time.

I suspect that Luke Perry worked hard to maintain those 30-year relationships. He went beyond “liking” his friends’ post. He created memories and spent time with those he loved.

We need to as well.


  1. This is a great post Hilary. I had to hop over here and read just to see what Luke Perry and Jesus had in common. Great title! "In a time where we have hundreds or thousands of online friends, but often feel isolated and alone (some are coining this generation as the “loneliest generation”), I am convicted again by the importance of spending time and connecting deeply with others." <— this is somewhat sad :( I agree, making those personal connections is vital. Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  2. I really didn't know much about him but I read who his family gathered around. That is a good testimony too, having seen people argue of where funerals would be held. Give people their flowers now.

  3. This is a great post that speaks volumes in a world that needs this kind of volume!! Especially in the church community as we should all be hearing this often but also doing it. Why be a hearer only when doing is what it's all about! I love loving people and this even encouraged me to do more!! Thanks for sharing a part of your heart. Visiting from #instaencouragements linkup. πŸ™‚

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