In the past week, I have been bombarded (by choice, actually) with a LOT of information on relationships. It’s really causing my thinking to change and really, it’s causing me to change.
Jeff and I are leading a small group. The study we’re going through is one by Andy Stanley called “Life Rules”. It’s about the way God would have us deal with the relationships in our lives. The first session was purely about taking us back to think about what “rules” we had for relationships growing up. It’s funny–most of the people in my group grew up in a very traditional church and with parents who didn’t talk about problems when they occurred. It wasn’t something you did. You put on a happy face, especially at church–where you were every Sunday and Wednesday with your best clothes on–and you did not let on that anything was wrong or that you were any less than perfect. I guess it was a southern cultural thing.
We also had to give ourselves a little report card on what we think other people think of us: Family/Spouse, Coworkers, Friends, Adversaries. I’m not sure I came out so well on that one. What I discovered is that I’d do anything for my family. I’m a very reliable and trustworthy employee. As a friend I am difficult to get to know and I back away from people when things get too personal. Where my adversaries are concerned, I am cold and unforgiving. Good thing for me that next week is ALL about how, since we have accepted forgiveness we are not allowed to not offer it to those in our lives who need forgiving. By the end of the night, the whole group realized that next week is going to be a tough one for all of us.
The bottom line was this. We put so much emphasis on our relationship with Christ. But, HE puts much more emphasis on our relationships with other people. As Christians, we help shape the impression that people have of Christ. No matter how we were raised or what seems to come natural for us, we are always to act out of love just as Christ does for us NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. Do I do that? Not always.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.