What Does the Bible say About Relationships?
What Does the Bible say About Relationships?
What advice have you been given about relationships? (Dating, friendship, roommates, married).
What do we value about relationships? What does the culture of the University around us say about relationships?
Who in your life has a relationship that you look up to? What is it about their relationship that you may aspire to?
We Are Created for Relationship
The reason why we all have the desire to be in relationship with one another, with someone we have feelings for, with our families, with our classmates -- is because we have been created for relationship from the very beginning.
Relationship with one another and relationship with God!
But from the very beginning, when humanity fell into sin, it broke these once perfect relationships. It made them messy, foggy, painful, disconnected.
Now we still desire relationships, but we often desire them for the wrong reasons and when we find them, we often mess them up.
Our lives as Christians are in pursuit of healthy spiritual relationship with God, His world, and His church!
Sense of Self, Identity, and Wholeness
We have a desire to keep our partner happy, rather than build up and into a healthy relationship.
We begin to lose our sense of self in a relationship when we are overly invested in these two lies:
I need this person to be complete
If this person needs me, I will be complete
Lie 1: I Need This Person to Be Complete
According to this first lie, if we have a relationship with that person, we will become instantly whole, complete, all of our needs met.
Often times this is how we culture, especially church culture, can make single folks feel. That their life is not complete until they have met their significant other.
How have you felt or experienced this lie in your own life?
Lie 2: If I Am Needed by This Person, I Will Be Complete
According to the second lie, is that if we are desired and loved by someone else, that it will make our lives full.
That our sense of self, our sense of worth, our identity is based on being needed or loved.
This extends outside of romantic relationships all the time – we want to be liked and loved by others. Assuming that once we are, that we will find meaning and fulfilment in our lives.
Have you ever experienced this lie in your own life?
Relying on Others
The reality is that as human beings we have a deep desire to be in relationship with one another, to know one another, and to share and experience love with one another.
Due to this we often rely on people instead of God to meet our deepest needs.
Why do you think most of us struggle to rely on God rather than people?
Why do you think that people do not offer us the same fulfillment that God does?
But, What Does the Bible Say About Relationships?
All of our relationships are based on love. For some it is a familial love of a sibling, or a love of a dear childhood friend. For others it is the romantic love of a boyfriend or girlfriend (or maybe a strong like). Still others it is a compassionate love for our neighbours, for those less fortunate. Let’s talk about love as it is the foundation of any good relationship.
Hebrew Word for love:
Hesed - חֶ֫סֶד - Loyalty, faithful promise, goodness, graciousness.
This unshakable, unchangeable,steadfast love of God.
Greek Words for love:
Ἀγάπη - agape - To love the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection.
Φιλαδελφία - philadelphia - brotherly love, love of friends (1 Sm 20:17)
Ἔρως - eros - desire, lust
Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” Jesus declared, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Human Relationships as a Mirror
Humans were made for relationship with one another from the beginning of time. We read about this in the book of Genesis: 2:18: God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”
So too, were we made for relationship with God – 1 John 3:1b: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
The problem is that we are not perfect, and so too, our relationships suffer from our imperfections.
We are selfish, we say the wrong things, do the wrong things, and end up hurting those around us that we are in relationship with.
But here is where we need to recognize that as children of God, as forgiven followers of Jesus, we are not called to love in our own power. We are not expected to be perfect. We cannot fulfill the expectations of our loved ones perfectly. Only the love of God, through Jesus, can do that.
Our Relationship with Christ
We often use this language don’t we – a relationship with God – but what does that actually look like to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe?
A person who knows God has an intimate personal relationship with Him. And that relationship is eternal, not temporal. Eternal life is not simply endless existence.
Our relationship with God, is to be the model for which we come to love others in our friendships, in our families, in our dating relationships, and our marriages.
It is this perfect agape love of God that we are freely given, that we are even able to love others at all.
1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Two Lies Fulfilled
I know, Sunday school answer, but I am going to say it anyway.
We are fully filled when we accept Christ as our Saviour – when we realize that we are forgiven and beloved no matter what we have done.
We are fully known when we accept that Christ wants to know us, to have a personal relationship with us, He is in constant pursuit of us.
All of this is fulfilled in Christ – not in people!
I Just Can’t
I am never going to be able to love in the same way. I am barely able some days to love my immediate family, let alone those who I would consider to be my enemies! So, what about us fully human people? How are we supposed to possibly model this love?
Overflow of Love
You are right -- you can’t love in the same way or capacity as Christ loved us.
But, we aren’t expected to be the perfect expressions of love. Instead, we are reminded that we have received perfect love as a gift from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus - and it is from here that we are commanded to love
A love that is perfectly sincere, devoted, hospitable, and humble.
A love that sets the foundation for all of our relationships.
A love that moved the Creator of the Universe so deeply toward us, that He sent His only Son,to suffer for us.
A love that isn’t reliant on our human ability to love perfectly, but instead, is the perfect love that is found at the foundation of all of our loving relationships. We have Father whose very identity is love.
It Isn’t Up To US
Take a deep breath. The expression and sharing of the love of Jesus is not dependent on our human capacity to love perfectly sincerely, devotedly, hospitably, and humble. But on the unconditional, incomparable love of Jesus Christ. On our ability to rest in His love.
So next time you are in an argument with your boyfriend, or your spouse, your roommate, or even a close friend - be reminded that the love or ‘like’ that you have for him or her, is not based on your ability to perfectly love as Christ did.
Instead, it is Christ in you, your status as a forgiven, empowered, Son or Daughter of God, that you can rest entirely on the love of Christ through the Spirit to love as “He first loved us”
Romans 5:5b - “...God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”