If you’ve lived in this world longer than a few years you have inevitably learned that relationships are not easy. Whether it’s marriage, family relationships, or friendships, the truth is most of the hurt and damage in society today is a result of relationships gone wrong.
Relationships were given to humanity as a gift from God. In Genesis 2: 18, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” In giving Adam a wife, God allowed him to have someone who could relate to him, talk with him, and have intimacy with him. Even while God’s presence was with Adam, He gave him a relationship with another human.
Tragically, it is this relationship that would be the first of many to cause pain and destruction in the lives of those involved. Rather than providing trust, safety, and harmony as God intended, this relationship crumbled under temptation, deceit, blame, self-protection… well, Sin. It was the relationship that would define what future relationships would look like under the Fall: self-serving, envious, record keeping, blaming, and often painful.
Today, relationships are used as bait to enslave the lonely and to prey on the weak and vulnerable. They are used to escape, to fulfill, to control, and at times to destroy. Humanity has come to either fear relationships or to view them as a means for personal gain.
What is most devastating is that while the Church is suppose to be set apart (aka HOLY), we operate much like the world in this area… at times worse. We judge others in the name of religion or tradition. We slander, gossip, and envy. We play favorites, tear others down, and sometimes down right ignore others around us in need. Our marriages are crumbling, the Body is dividing on relational issues presented by our culture, and our words to each other are saturated with hate and vitriol (it only takes a few minutes on social media to see evidence of this).
Satan is doing his job well in this area. The reason broken relationships in the Church are so dangerous is this:
“The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind just as You, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are- I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.“ John 17: 20-23 MSG
Jesus prayed for our relationships both with Him and with each other. If we aren’t unified, if the Church is divided and our relationships are broken… who will serve as evidence of the love of Jesus Christ?
I am a product of the damage Christians can do. I am the daughter of a Pastor whose abuse and legalism cost him his family. I have lived through hypocrisy, slander, and gossip in my family of believers. Not only have I been the victim of destructive relationships… I have been the cause.
What God has revealed to us in His word is that He has given us the key to experience relationships the way He intended. And just as relationships can hurt and destroy us, they can also heal and restore. Here is the secret: Jesus Christ and the love He gives.
The point is Jesus. Just as loving relationships in believers reveal Jesus Christ to the world, we first need Jesus to have loving relationships. His love is there… waiting for each of us to take it and accept it. John tells us:
“This is love: Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” 1 John 4: 7, 13: 34.
Believing that Jesus loves us opens the door to freely love one another, without fear, without jealousy, without self-serving. 1 Peter 1: 22 tells us a loving heart is evidence of a heart purified by Jesus and in 1 Corinthians Paul explains what a loving heart looks like in relationship with others. Love protects rather than hurting with envy, pride or anger. Love doesn’t self-serve or keep record of wrongs, but instead trusts. Love hopes and perseveres when times get tough. James tells us that love doesn’t show favoritism, isn’t critical or judgmental, and serves others rather than self.
We as believers don’t love in response to the actions of others, we love in response to the actions of JESUS. Does that mean we will be hurt? Yes. Does that mean we will suffer? Yes. Will we fail miserably in this love at times? Of course. But because of Jesus, we have hope when we are hurt, peace and healing when we suffer, and forgiveness when we fail.
It is love that is more powerful than anything Satan or this world can throw at us. Sometimes love means walking away, sometimes love means staying, and sometimes love means laying down your own life for the life of someone else.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4: 8
Our hope at My Journey of Faith Ministries, is that the body will be built of healed, redeemed, and LOVED believers who are encouraging and loving others like Christ loves us. Like I said, relationships aren’t easy, but if we can get this right- in our marriages, in our families, in our friendships, in our churches- the world will know Jesus truly is who He says.
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 35