Making Room for Relationships

John 15:7-17

Jesus tells us we can have whatever we ask on one condition: that we abide in his love. Abiding in his love means to dwell within the shelter of his loving character. His love is our home, the place we are welcomed, safe and our needs are met. From this place of being totally encompassed by the love of Jesus, what could possible be missing from our life that we would need to ask for? The answer: relationships.

The relationship Jesus experienced with his father is the model for our relationships, with God and with one another. Our scripture today paints a picture of such friendships.

Healthy and fruitful relationships require a connection to a source of love that is greater than our human affections. When we are convinced that we are completely loved and totally provided for, we are free to love the other without a hidden agenda. We can offer ourselves in love to the other for who they are, not who we need them to be. Love abounds. How can you ground yourself in God’s great and abiding love for you? Make the conscious decision to offer yourself in love to someone today, without expectation of return. How does this feel?

Jesus’ love led him to lay down his life for his friends. That probably won’t be the case in our relationships, but sacrifices will need to be made. Putting another’s interest above our own (Phil 2) means we may not get our way. Ouch. But we love in the same manner of Jesus when we suffer such self denial. In what way can you lay down your life for your friend? (Letting them choose the restaurant, giving them the comfortable chair.) Practice this today and notice how it impacts the nature of your friendship.

Jesus shared with his friends all he had heard from his Father, we should also share with one another the way God is working in our hearts. Take the risk of moving a casual conversation to a deeper level, tell a friend what God is teaching you about the life of the Kingdom. This is the path to deeper, more fruitful friendships.

We are not God, we do not have the capacity to love all people equally; but we can choose a few friends who we can commit to loving as best we can, offering them a physical reminder of God’s tender and present love. As has been said, we can be “Jesus with skin on.” Who can you choose to love?

Jesus said, “This is my commandment that you love one another.” Such loving relationships produce fruit that will last throughout eternity.

With you on the journey,

Debby

Written for CBC’s weekly devotional thought.

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Go to the source

courseWe’re winding down the exploration of “Who am I?” in our series The New/Old where we look at old familiar topics God wants to make new. Let’s recap:

You were given biological life by the grace of God, and you were taught how to handle this gift by the influence of your parents and culture. Of course, your own temperament played a part in how these lessons were incorporated and interpreted, but for the most part you were passive in this process, you received and responded.

But now you are becoming your own agent of choice. You are wise enough to go to the source. Ask the creator of life to teach you how to live. You have much to unlearn and much to learn about this life you are seeking. God will be a faithful teacher. Jesus is your model, your instructor and friend. In the past you looked to tutors who were less faithful and true –

  • parents who, although they loved you the best they were able, did not love you perfectly and placed expectations on you that squelched your spirit, you learned to hide your true life.
  • the church, intended to train you in the love and freedom that is yours as a beloved child of God, instead taught you the life of a slave; filled with shame and rules that must be obeyed out of fear, you learned to hate your true life.
  • relationships, meant to provide the experience of intimacy, acceptance and mutual respect, instead convinced you that only perfection in body and personality could be desired and honored. Knowing your own imperfection and discovering flaws in the other eliminated the possibility of connection, you learned to wear a mask to conceal your true life.

You looked to these teachers to give you life, but they delivered death. Each death dealing “lesson” you learned, each disappointment you suffered created a wall that surrounded your true self and separated you from the source of life, God’s love. But God’s love was not content with this divide, so the trinity conspired to break down this wall of separation. The flesh and blood of Jesus eliminated this barrier and you have been brought near to the God of life. God’s grace has returned you to the place of a student, ready and eager to learn. And now Jesus will teach you. Forget what lies behind and attempt to maintain the posture of a little child who is learning things for the first time…

With you on the journey,

Debby