The Right Way to Begin a Relationship

We naturally meander through life asking the wrong questions. For instance, we ask, “Why did God create us, knowing we would do evil and experience suffering?” But that’s the wrong question. Instead, we should ask, “Why did God create us, knowing that we would reject Him and kill Him?”

The simple fact is that my sinful choices have caused infinitely more pain and suffering for God than they have for me. Furthermore, I totally deserve my suffering. God does not.

So let’s ask another important question about the death of Christ. Did He agree to die in response to my sin? No. So why did He die then? He agreed to die before He created me, knowing that I would fail. Did you catch that key word? Before.

The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

This theological observation provides a crucial insight for me, whenever I begin a relationship of any kind. Do I begin relationships expecting the best, but surprised by something less? Do relationships have a routine way of disappointing me?

  • I build friendships, but eventually my friends let me down.
  • I get married, but my spouse becomes difficult to love and respect.
  • I have children, but they make my life more challenging.
  • I work diligently for my employer, only to be overlooked, mistreated or released.

When God made people, He desired a relationship them. Therefore, He planned in advance to die on our behalf, knowing in advance that we would fail Him. He desires a relationship with you, and by dying on the cross, He continues to make this fellowship possible.

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

Do you begin relationships the same way? Have you stopped wishing for the best and being surprised by something less? Have you learned to accept the fact that lasting, meaningful, satisfying relationships happen only when you plan to die in advance?

  • I build friendships, knowing that my friends will let me down, but looking forward to loving them anyway.
  • I get married, knowing that increased familiarity will make it more difficult to love and respect my spouse. I anticipate this reality and look forward to giving them the love and respect they desperately need, even though they don’t deserve it.
  • I have children, knowing in advance that my life will become more challenging. I am already planning to relinquish my hobbies, reallocate my finances and devote my time to providing them with the love and training they need from me.
  • I work diligently for my employer, knowing that I will probably get overlooked or mistreated, and may be unexpectedly fired. Nevertheless, I look forward to this opportunity to experience the grace and provision of Jesus Christ.

Paul expressed this cross-like perspective eloquently and accurately when he said:

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. (2 Corinthians 12:15)

In life and service, he planned in advance to devote his material resources and personal energies to build meaningful relationships. If the people he befriended and served disappointed him, he would continue to love them. He decided this in advance, and he would not relent. Why? Because he committed to die beforehand.

Jesus taught the same principle.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. (John 12:24)

So do you want to be a loner, unattached to meaningful friendships and relationships? Then refuse to die. Stand up for your rights. Insist to be heard. Demand equal treatment. Require others to meet you halfway.

And what will be the result? You will “abide alone.” You will find yourself alone in the world, with no one but yourself to be your friend and constant companion. Is that what you want?

But if you want to build friendships and relationships that stand the test of time, then choose to die. Follow the way of the cross. Begin relationships with a predetermined commitment to die to all self interests. Lay down your rights. Listen, rather than be heard. Quietly accept unequal treatment. Meet others where they are, even if you must go all the way there to meet them.

And what will be the result? You will enjoy the fruit of multiplied, lasting relationships. You will be surrounded by a spouse, children and friendships that every heart desires. But first, you must learn to die.

The real problem the every relationship is not the other person. The other person will always be a sinner, and will always introduce challenges of one kind or another. You have to expect that. The problem in all of my relationships is me. It is my refusal to die. But when I die, I discover the pathway forward.

The same Christ who died on the cross to have a relationship with you will enable you to follow His example in the relationships that fill your life. Will you let Him?

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