Relationships are an interesting topic. Relationships can assume several forms and degrees of closeness, due to the diversity of people, customs, and cultures. Whenever and wherever you find at least two people, you can find the beauty and the challenges of relationships. This topic deserves our attention. In fact, it is because of the commonality and the purpose of relationships that Christians should be aware of their potential dangers to be ready to enjoy their potential blessings.
The diversity of possible relationships makes me think that good, edifying relationships are not the result of a specific technique or an infallible recipe. Instead, there is an art to relationship-building that needs to be progressively mastered under the guidance of the One True Master. If we are going to do this right, we need His truth to guide our relationship-building. Consider some important reminders:
1. Review your expectations
The awkwardness of certain situations in a relationship context comes from the difference between expectations and reality. Though we expect happiness and intimacy, we might experience sadness and division.
We must recognize how our expectations, based on our ideals, can be shaped by the world around us. Because of this, our hearts can deceive us. We can crave a sense of peace apart from the Prince of Peace. We can search for happiness from creation rather than the joy of serving the Creator. We fail to see the opportunities to live out true peace amid trials with difficult people. We want comfort and easiness, but the reality is not always comfortable nor easy.
The Word of God informs us about human nature, need, and the coming of Jesus. The sad reality that we experience in relationship struggles is the reason for the gospel, not merely a frustrated dream of personal happiness. Jesus came because we are not what we are supposed to be. Left to ourselves, we are not wise, just, and holy. So, Jesus came to redeem us and to be our wisdom, justice, and holiness (1 Cor. 1:30).
As we encounter difficult relationships, we must remember: Jesus came because of our brokenness! Do we need wisdom? Jesus is all the wisdom we need! Are we guilty of breaking relationships because of sin? Jesus is all the righteousness we need! Do we crave sinful desires in relationships? Jesus is all the holiness we need!
2. Relationships belong to God’s Kingdom, not yours
Because of wrong expectations, we also create wrong goals which are reached through wrong behavior. They are all connected, showing our need for a biblical view of relationships.
Relationships serve a bigger purpose than our comfort and ease. Relationships should be pursued to build God’s Kingdom purposes, not ours (Rom. 11:36). So, as we face difficult relationships, we must remember God is up to something—something good (Rom. 8:28, 29). Although relationships can be quite challenging, they are under God’s sovereign control, serving His good plan for us. What is God doing through our relational challenges? He is working on a piece of art, our likeness to His Son, Jesus Christ.
3. Remember the ultimate reason to love people
The gospel is a message of God’s initiative. God took the initiative to love us. When we were lost and hateful, He took the initiative and came to us and for us (Rom. 5.8). He loved us first. He loved us perfectly. So, we love people because of His love (1 John 4:19). It is the message of the gospel that informs our love for people. It is the love of God that empowers our love for difficult people in awkward situations. There is freedom in the gospel. We are not stuck in unpleasant circumstances; through Christ we are free to love difficult people. This is not easy, but it is supernatural.
We should enjoy relationships. Even if they are difficult, they present us with a reason to remember the gospel. People are broken, so Jesus came. We can spread His Good News in a powerful way through our words and love inspired by the gospel.
Join the Conversation
- What are some additional truths concerning relationships that help you to persevere through its challenges?
- How do you encourage someone struggling (with despair, discouragement or pessimism) in the context of relationships?