(In 2017, I wrote this series for the 40 days prior to Easter to prepare our hearts and minds for the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. I’m reposting the series now for the 40 days after Easter to encourage us to follow through, living in the risen Savior and King.)
That being said, I confess that I became increasingly lonely over the weeks after a major surgery a few years ago and what felt like solitary confinement in our house.
Yes, I’m exaggerating a little about having been locked down. My wife and kids were very so helpful, encouraging, and patient through every phase of my recovery. And I had great visits from some brothers and sisters of our congregation, my office, and the neighborhood. But I still felt like I’d been on a short chain that limited me from being in all of those relationships more deeply and more frequently. God designed us to feed each other spiritually and to be fed in relationships, and I often felt like I was starving.
After all, God created us in His image, and He is the essence of relationship. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three persons as one God always have and always will perfectly talk to each other, plan together, act together, and rejoice together. And since He made us to live in His image, His ways are to be our example and hope in everything we do.
There is nothing we think, do, or feel that is not directly tied to some aspect of relationship. Let’s test that thought with some specifics that, at first glance, don’t seem to involve relationships at all. Consider the following.
* Sometimes I play my guitar at night alone. But why? To de-stress from relational issues of the day or to prepare for times that I will play it to encourage others.
* I often clean my yard alone. Again, why? So it will appear more inviting to guests (and so I won’t get in trouble with people at the housing office).
* I operate the standard transmission of my car extra gently so it will last longer because I don’t want to have bills that take away from investments in relationships: gifts, dinners, vacations, etc.
* I sleep facing away from my wife to minimize her suffering from any of my snoring or morning breath.
Even automatic unconscious actions relate to people, too. For example, God designed us to exhale carbon dioxide, and He designed plants’ photosynthesis in His creation to turn it to oxygen for our very lives.
Everything is relational.
So if we want to do anything better, with more success (as God defines success), with more joy, etc., then we have to know God better. We have to know the One who calls us to relationship with Him through Christ and with each other in the Body of Christ. We need to know what the three persons of the Trinity value, what authority and submission look like among them, how they deal with injustice, waiting, separation, confusion, loss, or false accusations, etc.
When we know God better – not just in our heads, but by walking in His ways and experiencing His work in our lives – then we will have the wisdom, love and power needed for our relationships with each other.
We need more genuine relationship with God and each other. Let’s not settle for .50 worth of Jesus during a prayer at meals and $3 worth of Jesus on Sunday mornings.
Share your real heart with loved ones on Monday mornings; listen for their soul’s concerns when you see each other in the grocery store; tell them even the little miracles that God is working in your life; pray with me on the spot when I ask you to pray for me; invite a Christian family to your home when it’s not as clean as you want it to be, and know that you’re welcome in mine even when there are dirty socks on the floor.
Then, when we’re old and dying, we won’t look back with joy on projects accomplished at work, hobbies that we honed or times we could get away from everyone. We’ll look back on the relationships.
For relationship is what all who follow Christ by faith will enjoy for eternity.