Christian Relationships – Relating with Others
We are social beings created for relationships at home with our families and neighbors, at work with our employees/employers, and in the community of disciples.
In Christ-like relationships, husbands and wives must submit to one another in reverence to Christ.
Husbands should submit themselves to love, lead, protect, sacrifice, and provide for the needs of their family, and wives should submit to and support their husbands and families (Ephesians 5:21-33).
Children should submit to respecting and honoring their parents, and parents should submit to raising their children by instructing them according to the word of God (Ephesians 6:1-4).
In the work place, employees should submit to their employers by fulfilling their responsibilities, and employers should also submit to their employees by seeking the best for them (Galatians 3:28).
The difficult call to relationship
We are relational beings, but the sin that destroyed our relationship with God also ruined our relationship with others. This is why life’s greatest hurts as well as life’s greatest joys come through relationships with people. So, how can we overcome some of the challenges we face in our relationships so as to follow the example Jesus has left for us? We are disciples of Jesus, called to obey His teaching and to follow him no matter what.
… Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what, not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, becoming human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death … (Philippians 2:1-11).
Jesus is God by nature, but He made himself empty and came to this world as a human to serve and live among us to show us the way of a joyful life. He lived by fully submitting himself to what His Father wanted Him to do (John 5:19, John 5:30). He came to serve, not to lord over people. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus showed us what the Father looks like (John 14:9)—not just what He was like 2,000 years ago but what He looks like all of the time. He taught His disciples to serve as He served them instead of lording over them (Matthew 20:26-28).
Christ-like Relationships are our Witness
As followers of Christ, submitting to one another requires that we hold more tightly to unity and love than to our rights and privileges. Jesus said that the most important commandment is to love God, and the second most important is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). If we are going to have Christ-like relationships with others, we need to love people—even people who are hard to love. Jesus set the example for us, coming to die even for the people who hated Him. Love is a willingness to set aside our own concerns so as to attend to the needs of others. Love is more than a feeling that includes actions (1 John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 13). Christ-like relationships within the community of believers allow us to love one another deeply, walk-in fellowship with one another, bear each other’s burdens, encourage and build each other to grow, and serve our world together (Hebrews 10:24-25).
When we love one another as Jesus loves us, the world knows that we are the disciples of Jesus (John 13:33-34). The early Church was known for their love and care for one another as it is recorded in Acts 4:32-34:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.
The meaning of life is not in having authority over others but in serving them. Paul in his epistles wrote that we should “serve one another in love”—this is a Christ-like relationship (Galatians 5:13; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:3). Serving others gives us a meaningful life (1 John 4:10-11). When we kneel down and serve somebody, it makes it harder to think that we are important or mighty. This is why leaders in the Church should be servants (John 13:15); that is the only way that eternal life is going to be enjoyable for everyone. We thank God for leaders who follow the example of Jesus and risk their lives to serve others. True greatness lies not in power but in service—the type of service that Jesus demonstrated.
Christ-like Relationships in the Church
One of the arenas where we can serve one another is within the community of believers, the Church. As we all know, there is no perfect church, just like there is no perfect person. But the Church is the community of disciples that is designed to help us on our journey to grow together in knowing Jesus. In this community, we learn how to walk with Jesus, remember His sufficient grace and promises, and grow together in experiencing God to serve our society.
This community also helps us to stay focused on our life purpose, and it gives us opportunities to exercise patience and forgiveness which we may not like but which still helps us learn to be more like Jesus. Paul reminds us of the example we ought to follow (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32).
God has purposefully given us different gifts to serve one another (1 Corinthians 12:11). We need each other just as each part of our body needs the other parts. We have not been given gifts to serve ourselves or to boast about our gifts but to serve others (1 Corinthians 12:14-26). God has given us different gifts “for the common good of others” (1 Corinthians 12:7). We need each other to grow in the image of the Son—the eternal purpose of God—and to reach our world for His glory (Romans 8:29).
When we follow in the footsteps of our master, Jesus, His mercy and grace fill our families, our neighbors, our faith communities, and our workplaces. In all our relationships, we should help one another to grow in Christ-like character, to encourage, and to build each other up (Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Ephesians 5:22-25; Ephesians 6:1-8).
Christ-like Relationships Take Time
Living a life that reflects Christ-like relationships won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight. It takes time, so we need patience with the process, both with ourselves and others. We need faith that God will finish the work He has started in us. God is “a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). It is my prayer and desire that His character overflows in our relationships with others.
How is your relationship with your family (spouses, children, and parents) and with your neighbors?
How are your relationships at your workplace?
How are your relationships in the church family?
Are all of your relationships reflecting the way Jesus related with people?
What does it mean to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus in our relationships with one another (Philippians 2:5)?
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