This blog is second in a series dealing with Relationship Rescue. What are the most basic biblical principles for healthy rapport with other human beings?
Last week I suggested there’s a lot our lonely, isolated world could learn from the Church about relationships. I really think most people would like to know more about healthy family ties and friendships, but the saints don’t seem to be teaching anything useful these days. Too often, our efforts at building and maintaining bonds of love are just about as unbiblical and ungodly as those of our unbelieving neighbors.
So I’ve set out to identify the Ten Commandments of Relationship. Maybe you’ve been pondering and flipping pages in the Bible and looking for your top ten principles. Great! Feel free to share your own or comment on mine. Anyway, here goes something…!
#1: Thou shalt love your friends the way Jesus of Nazareth loved his. Check out John 13:34. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Jesus loved his friends by spending time with them, by patiently bearing with them when they misunderstood him or disappointed him, and by adding value to their lives. The original disciples were never just a backdrop for Christ’s passion play. He included them in the drama, loved them in spite of their failures, forgave them when they behaved stupidly, and equipped them to become leaders in his movement.
It’s painfully obvious that too many church people don’t really want friends. We want classmates and playmates. “Classmates” sit in Sunday School with us week after week, talking about esoteric, spiritual factoids without ever saying anything remotely personal. Then we drive away from church to fraternize with co-workers and relatives. Likewise, “playmates” are expected to entertain us but never confront us, challenge us, or differ with us. When a playmate stops being amusing, it’s time to shaft that lump of coal and find a more attractive gem. Triva Question: Did Hugh Hefner really dream up the Playmate of the Month, or did the original concept erupt among fully clothed Baptists who couldn’t keep a friend for more than 30 days?
Jesus loved his friends enough to gently challenge them when they were mistaken. They argued endlessly about who was closest to Jesus. They insisted he should make personal safety a high priority. His most powerful ideas eluded them and his most provocative statements sailed right over their heads. Truly, they were not worthy of him. But Jesus loved them tirelessly and cultivated good things within them.
We never did take our WWJD bracelets seriously, did we? When Christian friends flounder and fumble and fail us, we assume the options are extremely limited. Option A: Change friends. Option B: Change churches. Historically, Jesus always looked for a different option; something more loving and less self-centered. He seemed to prefer Option C: Love always hopes; always protects. Love never fails.
Lift up the Cross!