We Were Created for Relationships!
Hello weekend readers. I am musing on something that has bothered me ever since a conversation I had with a person. It had to do with the fact that they said Christians should only be loving and caring for those in the “flock” and it is also a sin to marry a person who is not a believer, shouldn’t hang around with non-believers, etc. Suffice it to say, it was a tough conversation for me to end without losing my cool. I also wondered what kind of theology this person embraced or was being taught!
Two verses from 1 John 4:11-12 stands out in my mind about what God wants for us in having relationships and caring for each other: “My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!”
A show that I love from Hallmark is called “The Postables.” It is funny, poignant, and filled with messages of faith and hope and encouragement. Here is a short story from one of the episodes that the Postables tracked down from the “dead letter office.”
A young man was living in Illinois was determined to win the affection of a beautiful lady he had met once at business convention in Chicago. They had polite conversation but she was interested in anything further. When the convention was over he tried to say goodbye but she had already departed to O’Hare. He was crest-fallen but determined all the more!
He made a snap decision that he could win her heart through US Mail with love letters. He was quite poetic so the letters were filled with quotes, etc., always ending with his plea to get together. After a few tries, he heard nothing so he was so determined he wrote one every day! Still not response, but he was not to have his plan thwarted. After months of no response he began sending three love notes daily. One could say that is exhausting at best but determination of the heart is strong.
In the end, he actually wrote more than 700 letters. The outcome, however, is not what you would think. After all these letters, the lady wound up not getting together with this man but instead she married the postman! After all, he was right there-daily-delivering her hundreds of letters from one determined love-struck dude in Illinois!
It was a funny episode and it also had a deep meaning. God created us for relationships. Perhaps the intention wasn’t 700 letters, but in the heart of each human beats a need for one another and that was God’s intention from creation to eternity. God’s perspective for us is just this: relationships are the heartbeat of life.
Are relationships easy – oh heavens no! Like our love-struck young man, we can try and try again and get no response or a response that tells us to go away, leave me alone, etc. It takes work to have healthy relationships. That shouldn’t surprise us, think of the prophets, the apostles and Jesus’ life here on earth—it wasn’t easy one bit. Jesus healed people and some never even said “thanks” and some of those very folks were shouting “crucify him” at Pilate’s court.
But here’s the response of Jesus that we must never forget—Jesus NEVER gave up and he still never gives up. His love flows freely whether they believe it or not. For me, that is a reminder that if Jesus can love the unlovables and continues to desire having a relationship with them (I don’t think Jesus is sending love notes every day but his blessings prove he never stops!) so can we.
Some relationships will be healthy, others can be an up-and-down challenge. Sometimes we have to let go because it would be un-healthy for us. But sometimes we give up too quickly because we just don’t want to invest in another and that is sad indeed. And, going back to the conversation that started this musing, if we decide that we’re only going to have a friendship with believers because the others are not worthy, we forget none of us are worthy, all of us have sinned and gone astray. Yet Jesus’ love is there no matter what.
So I think we need to do a better job of relational work for God’s kingdom here on earth. Heaven knows we need to and God has equipped every single one of us with the talents to do so. Plus, we have the Holy Spirit always ready to supply the strength and wisdom we need to build relationships. The more we make God-honoring relationships with others, the deeper God’s love flows through humanity. And if we believe that Scripture from 1 John, doing so is how the love of God that lives in us is now made complete! AMEN.