2 Cor 5:17-18, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” Should our relationship with God be the first one we reconcile? Matt 22:36-37, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Jesus already showed us God wants a relationship with us, for while we were still sinners, He gave up His life for us, Jn 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” and Rom 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." God has done His part in establishing a great relationship with us. Once we understand His great love for us, which made Him want to come and suffer the pain of the cross, we are free to love Him, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Isn’t that the human condition, before we are willing to stick our necks out by showing our love for someone, we want to know they will return our love. We are afraid to risk rejection, but God recklessly risks everything for us.
Are there any relationships better than those founded on love? 1 Jn 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Since God is love, He will always love us and give us the freedom His love demands. The freedom He provides allows us to deny Him and to walk away from His love. His great love for us requires Him to respect our decision, Deut 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” He will allow us to choose death. However, He prefers that we choose eternal life, Eze 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
How important are relationships to God? Gen 2:18, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” God showed us He understands how vital relationships are by creating Eve and telling us it is not good for us to be alone. He is in the process of creating a very large family, so no one will ever be alone, again. And, He has invited all of us to be part of it and sent Jesus to provide a path to reconciliation. But, He knows it has to be a decision born of free will; otherwise, we will not truly love Him.
Mk 10:6-8, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” Is God telling us that the marriage relationship is a special one? Could the needs of our children be part of the reason for this special relationship? Does God want us to experience the parent/child relationship, from both sides, to help us better understand God and our relationship with Him? The experience we gain as parents, from seeing our children making decisions we know will harm them, brings us closer to God. We begin to understand what He feels when we, His children, choose to deny His existence. This teaching moment brings to light the reason He asks us to obey Him. When children obey their parents, they are safer and live a longer, more abundant life, teaching them to be better parents when they have children, Eph 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” When we learn to obey as children, we are better able to obey God when we become parents; and where will we find someone with better advice? Is 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” How foolish it is to ignore His advice, Prov 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
God teaches us about marriage to help us understand what He means when He says, Is 54:5, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” We will become one, Gen 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” as Adam and Eve became one flesh, Jn 17:20-21, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” however, ours will not be a physical union, but a spiritual one. We, His church, will become His bride, washed by the water of His Holy Word, Rev 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” We, His church, make ourselves ready by reasoning with His Word until we can willingly return His love.
He tells us He will honor us, as He tells husbands they must honor their wives, 1 Pet 3:7, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” When we trust God, we obey Him. When husbands treat their wives the way God asks us to, our wives will obey. And, a godly husband will never abuse this responsibility. Our relationships with our spouses will affect our relationship with God, even our prayers. Can we really come to God in prayer when we know we have not honored our spouses? This is another layer of the concept of being one, our being in Jesus, and Him in us. He wants us to learn to love in this life so that we will be ready for eternity with Him as part of His family, Jn 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” When we show our love for one another, are we not also showing our love of God? Is the world watching to see how we love? Are they using our failed relationships as their excuse for denying God? Have we become the hypocrites the world sees, blinding them to God’s love? Let us not place stumbling blocks in our brother’s way, Rom 14:13, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.”
God asks us to love one another by lifting up those who need our help, Eccl 4:9-10, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” When we love others enough to sacrifice for them, they are then more willing to sacrifice for others; is this how we all become stronger, is this God asking us to pay it forward? Are we not more confident when we know someone is watching our backs? Heb 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Does God want our relationships with other believers to be supportive and filled with good works? Does this encouraging embolden us? Personally, I am emboldened when I receive encouragement from readers. Once emboldened, are we all then more likely to do the will of God? Prov 13:20, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Does God want us to fellowship with those who walk with Him? Are these people the ones who have chosen to reason with God? Prov 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Is God not calling all of us to His wise counsel, to reconcile ourselves to Him? Would washing in His Word not make us wiser? Would our fellowship with others who are reasoning with God not make us wiser?
Matt 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” God asks us to love others to the point of unlimited forgiveness for their sins against us? Is this one of the ways we show we are His children? Can others see His light reflected in our forgiveness? 1 Cor 13:4-7, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Is God asking us to endure all things with an attitude of charity and love towards others? Is this not the path to reducing our perception of suffering, as we focus on the needs of others? Who has time to whine about an ache when they are witnessing another’s open wound?
Phil 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Are we to stay humble and not seek our own glory? There is a wonderful song, “Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns, which tells of a man who does not want to leave a legacy. He is not interested in having people remember His name, only Jesus. It is very difficult to seek our own glory when we are truly lifting up the name of Jesus.
Has God given us this life, filled with all kinds of people, for us to learn what good, healthy, and loving relationships are all about? Is this life an audition for a part in the play that is His eternal family?
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