Saturday, May 20, 2006

Relationships

re·la·tion·ship n.
  1. The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.
  2. Connection by blood or marriage; kinship.
  3. A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other.

That's how the dictionary defines 'relationship.' The Online Etymology Dictionary also had some things to say about the origin of the word, from which my highly inexpert mind gleaned the following highly inexpert summary: "describes a state of being," presumably between two things...not being an etymologist, I didn't get much from that site...but it was interesting. I digress.

Note the keyword connection in the definitions above. Apparently you can't define 'relationship' without using that word. In fact, they are basically synonymous. To ask, "how are you related?" is to ask "what is it that connects you?" Perhaps the answer is "mother, son." Perhaps it is "husband, wife." Perhaps the answer is "we're dating" or simply "we're friends." Maybe it's "we met on the street 5 minutes ago." For two Christians, an answer that always applies is "we are brothers/sisters in Christ." The most important relationship of all: "Jesus is my God and Savior."

Think about the relationships in your life and you will see that these connections are more than just a line connecting the dots, more than just the chain in a global chain gang. There are (consciously or unconsciously) obligations we must meet, expectations we have, rights we grant to others, rights we assume for ourselves. When we enter into a relationship with someone, we are throwing open the gates to our personal city. To whatever degree, that connection gives them a certain amount of power to affect us. No wonder relationships are so scary, and no wonder they affect us so strongly!

Jesus was all about relationships. Jesus (God the Son) always told people about his relationship with God the Father. He went out of his way to form relationships with all kinds of people while he was on earth. His sacrifice and resurrection (talk about a painful relationship!) cleared our sin out of the way, opening the way for us to establish a relationship with God.

Jesus came and gave all of himself (despite suffering) in relationships with others so that we could establish relationships with God. So guess what God calls us to do: establish that relationship with God, and then give of ourselves in relationships with others.

Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
"The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

We so often look at relationships with ourselves at the top of the hierarchy. "___ isn't spending enough time with me." "How are these people relating to me?" Etc. This is where the root of the problem lies. We are not the top of the hierarchy, we aren't even second in the commands. First, love the Lord your God. Second, love your neighbor. I need to remember this. First, devote myself completely to my relationship with God, and second, ask not what can people do for me, but what can I do for people. (And then, of course, do it.)

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Michelle said...

hey, interesting insights. I definitely need to be more intentional about how God wants to use the relationships in my life. Sometimes I just wonder what he's trying to teach me with them, especially from where he has me at the moment, so far away from the people I have the strongest relationships with (aside from family I mean).

Monday, May 22, 2006 4:02:00 PM  
Blogger treeinforest said...

I have lately found that my strongest relationships pick up right where they left off, even years later...

Monday, May 22, 2006 7:42:00 PM  

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