“Life is relationships. If you’re having a good life it’s because you have good relationships. If you’re having a tough life, it’s because you have problematic relationships.” – Jay Fesperman
Jay’s quote is such a truism. Relationships are so vital and central to life that it is a wonder we can be so negligent at times of our relationships – our relationship to God and our relationship to others. It is when we become careless in our relationships that our lives can become tough.
The Ten Commandments are all about relationship. The first four describe our relationship to Our God: do we honor Him in a way that is fitting and position Him in His rightful place in our lives?
The remaining commands regard our relationship to others: honoring them because they are created in the image of God. In fact, Jesus said all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ A God-honoring life is relationships.
Our self-existent God is also relational. Before the universe even came into being, He existed as the triune God-head: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can say that God is love and the source of love because that love relationship within the God-head is eternal – it has always been and will ever be. Then, when the Lord created mankind in His image, He did it for a relationship.
Relationship is a crucial aspect in our justification and reconciliation to God. Our relationship to Christ restores our relationship to the Father and gives us the access that was lost way back in the Garden of Eden.
[Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. – John 14:6]
[“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” – John 14:21]
Christ reconciles us to the Father, and now we walk in unbroken fellowship with Him – dead to sin, alive to God. Eternal life is relationships.
A healthy and close relationship to the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome sin, to be gifted supernaturally to do the works of God, to be fearless in obedience to the Father, and to LOVE. Walking in the Spirit, we no longer fulfill the lust of the flesh, but instead enjoy the manifestation of the Spirit’s fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Abundant life is relationships.
The Lord does some of His finest works of sanctification in our lives using our relationships; and our relationships can also be wonderful “litmus tests” of our character. Are you a generous person? How would you know without having sacrificially given in relationship? Are you patient? You will know by the relationships you have with difficult people. Are you selfish? You will know by your willingness to share time and treasure with those around you. Can I tell that God abides in me? 1 John 4:12 states that “if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” A holy life is relationships.
Living at The Inn for the last year and a half has helped me see the value of treasuring and nurturing the relationships in my life – with the Lord first, then with my neighbors. Dwelling in such close proximity of so many people so much of the time, I’ve experienced the sweetness that can come when relationships are in good order, and on rare occasions, the sourness that results when they are not. I’ve learned just how important it is to give care and attention to such a vital aspect of life – an aspect that can bring joy or misery.
Relationship is a gift from the Father of Lights. It means I don’t have to follow a list of do’s and don’ts, but I get to know and walk with the One and Only True and Living God, enjoying Him and obeying Him in faith and love. It means I get to enjoy the diverse expressions of His love through the saints, and have ones toward whom I can express the love He places in me. It means I get to gauge where I am in maturity in Christ by how I relate to my neighbors; and if I’m falling short in how I love others, I can run to Christ and have my heart adjusted.
Thank you, Father, for the gift of relationships! Help me, Lord, to treat all my relationships with loving care and attention – especially my relationship to You! Help me not to grow weary or reject difficult relationships but to rejoice in them, for You will perfect Your love in me through them. Amen!