The most wonderful and awful parts of life can be the relationships we have.
Real, mutually authentic relationships are really hard. It seems like everyone wants to be loved and to love, but no one seems to know how to make it happen.
The root problem, according to the Bible, starts with our family. Not just the family members we know, but way back in history to our first family members Adam and Eve, and their sons Cain and Abel. The first family started with perfect people in a perfect environment, and before long even they had a family that rivaled any craziness you will see on reality television. The first family, tragically, sinned against God and brought death where there was life, conflict where there was love, and brokenness where there was relationship. In fact, the first husband and wife walked away from each other, and the first two siblings’ relationship ended when one killed the other.
Since this first family, every family has been a dysfunctional family. Every family has its faults, flaws, and failures. Every family has its sins, sufferings, and strife. We need help. We need to admit that we need help.
This is why Jesus came. Looking down at our loveless world, our loving God decided that Jesus would come to forgive our sin, heal our hurts, and reconcile our relationships. Jesus’ best friend whom Jesus loved like a little brother says it this way in 1 John 4:10, “This is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
According to the Bible, love is what you do. It may or not be what you feel, but it is ultimately what you do. Jesus’ love did something – it went to the cross and died in our place paying the penalty for our sins so that we could be restored to a loving relationship with God and one another. Jesus is the most loving person the world has ever seen. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the most loving act the world has ever seen. This is what Romans 5:8 means saying, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
For those who belong to Jesus, the Bible says that we are “adopted” into God’s family where Jesus is like our Big Brother, God is our Father, and fellow Christians are “brothers” and “sisters.” In this way, the church is kind of like a big extended family made up of lots of families. Like all families, the church family has its problems but tries to stick together out of love.
Every little family needs to be part of God’s bigger family, the church. This is perhaps more important than ever, as our birth family is often fractured by divorce, separated by distance, or strained by conflict which leaves families without much of a support network to help them love one another. In the church family, we learn about living life according to God’s design. We build relationships where people help us to walk in God’s will. We see positive and negative examples from other people and families, which helps us to grow into godlier and happier individuals and families.
Grace and I learned this when we were dating in college. A family in our church invited us into relationship with them. They had us over to dinner, and we got to see them instruct, correct, and enjoy one another. This family of eventually 14 people (mom, dad, 2 sons, and 10 daughters – no, that is not a typo!) prayed together, read the Bible together, and had fun together. There was a lot that we learned by witnessing loving relationships that we would have never understood from just reading a book. Jesus came down in flesh and blood so people could see and hear Him, just as we need to do life together. Parenting is an impossible task for one person, which is why God and the family of God (church) are there to help.
Do you have a good church that you are actively involved in and regularly attending? Are you seeking out healthy relationships with other people to help you mature and help your child to mature?