Relationship & Connection – Love in the Mess
Everything was created for Him and through Him, He existed before everything else and holds all creation together. That includes relationships and connections with our families, communities and nations.
Humanity needs connection. No one can survive without it, and that’s because God created us for relationship. Even when we have relationship with Him, it is still not good for us to be alone (Gen. 2:18). And yet understanding relational dynamics is something we all struggle with. Why are some relationships so much harder than others? Why must I tolerate difficult people? Funnily enough, its the hardest relationships that are often the most beautiful!
The Inclination of the human Heart
You know that the one who drives you nuts is the one you love the most and they have the potential to shape your heart closer to God. We are complex and extraordinary, nobody can claim that to understand every facet of human behaviour. There have been many theories from Plato to neuroscience. The condition of the human heart has been called many things; Freud called in neurosis, I call it sin. The Bible says it’s not about our behaviour, but is a condition of the ‘inclination’ of our hearts.
Recently, I have realised the impact of pain on the inclinations of our hearts and how that in turn rules our behaviour. Parents want to change their children, employers their workers, churches their congregations, communities their residents and governments their nations. Often, the harder they try to force change, the more other’s hears reject it! The result is unwanted behaviours, but rarely heart change.
We never learn! When our kids don’t wash-up we get angry, shout & scream or nag them into doing what we want. Or when someone cuts in front of us in heavy traffic, we curse and thump the horn, we want them to know they’re selfish and to stop doing that! What about the work colleague that we’re in conflict with, we must know we’re right, yet the more we debate the louder and angrier we get?
Deal with your own hearts first
In each of my examples, behaviours may change, but does the inclination of the heart change? And what about our own hearts? Are you slow to listen when your child wanted to explain? Did you drive recklessly as you attempted to teach the other driver a lesson? Did you reflect on your colleague’s argument?
The root of all our desires stem from our hearts, and as we said our hearts incline away from change. To see things differently, we need Jesus to open our eyes, to lift the veil that covers them and see our hearts as God sees them. Jesus will change your behaviour, but he does it through first affecting your heart. It is a slow and painful process, but the results are incredibly beautiful. Paul describes it as walking in a manner worthy of our calling.
Think about the ultimate relationship God created, inviting us into his own family. He loves us so much that he paid the price for our death with His own in the person of Jesus. We are often so self-seeking that we rarely see the bigger picture of what God has done for us. He has connected us through his Son to be in relationship with Him.
Keep hitting until they submit!
If God behaved like us, He wouldn’t have given us redemption through Christ! He would have shouted and screamed at us, cursed and lashed out to make us listen and follow His rules. What He did is so incredibly far from that. He knows that the issue is our hearts, and that our hearts need the Gospel (the good news that Jesus died for us) in order to incline them away from our own desires, and so focus on His glory instead.
Have you ever thought that it’s not about changing the behaviour of others – but is rather about your own need for heart change? Are you able to change others that are causing you sorrow? Are you able to change your own heart in response to the behaviour of others? Is your heart inclined towards yourself, or towards God’s glory?
The answer is always Jesus
Only Jesus can save us from our own destructive behaviours! You need to have a relationship with Him before you can even begin to work on your relationships with others and that’s because he reveals your sinful heart to you and gives you the wisdom to respond with different motives. Jesus sets you free from all things, yes even sin!