We live in two juxtaposed realities when it comes to our relationships.
Some of our deepest joys have been the result of people, while some of our most painful hurts have been the result of people. (Maybe even the same person!)
Which is your relational reality right now? Maybe you’re experiencing the best and worst of both simultaneously? Regardless of where you are, the biblical fact of the matter is that you were made for relationships.
Genesis 2:18 tells us that it is not good for man to be alone. (This statement has to do with God’s design for humanity.) He created us to be relational beings because he is a social God.
The Creator lives in a community within the Trinity as Father, Son, and Spirit, and he made humanity in his likeness. We were meant to experience the joy of conflict-free horizontal community while vertically communing in the presence of the Triune God.
It didn’t take long for sin to ruin what God had intended. In Genesis 3, husband and wife engage in accusation and slander, and then a man murders his brother in Genesis 4. While we may not be convicted murderers, we have been living in conflict-ridden relationships ever since, and we do our fair share to contribute to that conflict every day!
Why are our relationships so conflicted? One of the biggest reasons is because we tend to worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). The very thing God created to reveal his glory becomes the glory we chase.
I find the words of C.S. Lewis so helpful when applied to our relationships:
“Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
How does this apply to your relationships? Ask yourself: Have you settled for finding satisfaction in horizontal relationships when they are meant to point you to vertical relational satisfaction found only with the Triune God?
The irony is that when we reverse the order and elevate creation above Creator, we destroy the relationships God intended—and would have enabled—us to enjoy.
Consider these additional words from Lewis:
“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”
This proper order will only be perfected and complete in heaven, but there is much we can enjoy now. The Bible promises that our relationships can be characterized by humility, gentleness, patience, edifying honesty, peace, forgiveness, compassion, and love.
But first, we must confess that sometimes our desires are too weak and our loves are reversed. Then, we must ask the Creator for the grace to experience relationships as he intended!
Isn’t it wonderful that God’s grace makes this possible today?
1. What have been some of your greatest joys in life, experienced as the result of good relationships?
2. What have been some of your greatest sorrows in life, experienced as the result of bad relationships?
3. In what ways may your “desires be too weak” when it comes to your relationships? In what other ways in the Christian life are you “far too easily pleased”?
4. What is the “more” that God wants from us when it comes to our relationships? How does that apply to you specifically today?
5. Consider one relationship (preferably not your spouse or child). How will that relationship become more God-honoring when you put God first over that person?
1 C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960), 3—4.
2 C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1966), 248.