In a few hours Deb and I will be going over to the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh campus to speak to a group of students about healthy relationships. The meeting is sponsored by His House Campus Ministries and I cherish the opportunity to be a part of the event.
Deb and I will seek to share a few things we’ve learned…and are still learning….about relationships. Being that it is Valentine’s day, we have been asked to speak a little about marriage and husband/wife dynamics as relates to the greater context of healthy relationships in general. I’m looking forward to exploring with these young adults in this great and challenging theme.
As I was preparing my thoughts it occurred to me just how many of my favorite passages are grounded in the relational. This is, of course, not a rocket science observation, as the Bible is a book about relationships from cover to cover. We have a tendency to make it about commandments, thou shalts and thou shalt nots…and forget that scripture is primarily focused on how God is drawing us back to the relationship He had in mind from the beginning.
Take a look at the following:
Matthew 22:34-40 – Jesus sums the law, the prophets and entire Divine Agenda of God. Love God. Love your neighbor (all other humans) Get God in the proper place at the core of your identity. Love him with all that is within you. And then turn that God/love thing loose on the rest of humanity. It’s relational.
The core of the Bible is relational- Think of these great passages:
Ps. 23 John 3:16 Romans 12 1 Cor. 13 Gal. 5:22 ff John 13
Jesus said: John 15:13 “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Its pretty hard to miss the idea the even in the scheme of redemption, it wasn’t just a matter of solving a theological problem. This was about friends working things out through sacrifice and devotion.
Note in the Creation epic the distinction made when God transitions from creating things to creating humans: Gen. 1 “Let there be…light, land, water, vegetation, fish, animals….”Let there be….”
1:26 “Let Us make man in our image…in our likeness….let them rule….(Purpose-Function-Primacy-Participation)
Gen. 2:7 Even better: “the Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground….and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life….” God is portrayed in the creation epic as more than an energy force working mighty acts in cosmic proportions. When it comes to mankind it is obvious that there is a personal intimacy going on here which is not evident in the other creative acts. Mankind is made in the image of God, formed in his hands from the dust of the ground, as it were, and has breath “breathed in” by God.
It is evident from the very earliest glimpse, that God intends to stay close to this project of His. He will have relationship with us and we with Him. This connection will not be easy for God. God becomes vulnerable when he establishes this relationship. In Genesis 6:6 in the Noah and the flood narrative, it is said, “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain.”
God’s agenda has always been about fostering and maintaining a healthy relationship with His Creation. He never intended distance, nor even a casual relationship. He always intended intimacy.
Our desire for healthy relationships finds everything it needs to know in observing the way God loves and invests Himself in Creation.
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.” I John 3: 16-17