God created everything to work within systems. Your body is a system of many systems. The sun, moon, and planets operate as a system. On a larger scale we even call them solar systems. The bible declares that God is not the author of chaos (without system) , but creates order (with system). In other words, He authors systems that create, protect, and preserve life and wholeness.
The Garden of Eden was a system. It was a system of four key relationships, 1) God with people (people with God) 2) people with each other 3) people with themselves 4) and people with creation. When the system was working as it was designed, God said it was “good.” It was the best of the best… paradise. However, with the entrance of sin, the system became seriously broken. Therefore God, out is love, decided to provide fixes for the system such as… grace, truth, law, forgiveness, sacrifice, repentance, and reconciliation all manifested in and through His son, Jesus. These fixes are given to us first and foremost to restore the system of our relationship with God, and then to be worked out , as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), to bring life and wholeness into all our other relationship systems.
Our relationship with God is the root to all of our relationships, that’s how the system works. It is only out of our relationship with God that we are able to successfully navigate the complexities and challenges in the system of all our other relationships.
As we all know, healthy relationship (systems) with people can be very difficult to develop and maintain. Millions of books, articles, and a host of other resources have and will be written about how to have healthy relationships. Yet, if you are like me, I am always trying to simplify things into practical terms that I can actually understand, remember, and apply to my life consistently.
As a pastor of 17 years, I have seen in my ministry with thousands of people and within my own life, one primary system breakdown occur more than any other when it comes to having and maintaining healthy, life giving relationships with people. The primary breakdown I see is that we so often look to other people to meet the needs in our life that only God can and should. We look to other people to determine how we should feel about ourselves, we assess the value other people place on us to discern the value we should place on ourselves, we lean on the affirmation of others to be able to have an affirmation of ourselves, we look to others to convince us of what we can’t convince ourselves, namely that we are lovable, valuable, and have a purpose in this life. And that’s just the beginning of the list of how we turn to people for what we can and should only be getting from God. God never designed the system to work that way.
This imbalance in the system prevents us from being able to truly love and be loved in return. The very thing we want and were created for most, eludes us time and time again. As we turn to our relationships to futilely try to make up and supply for what’s missing in our relationship with God and ourselves, we send into a tailspin our ability to truly love and be loved in return. Our relationships become an enemy to what God is trying to do in our lives instead of an outflow of what God has and is doing in our lives. And then we wonder why we are unsatisfied, disappointed, and disillusioned.
If we don’t first know, establish, and protect who we are and what we have in Christ, we can cannot know and establish who we are and what we have as a person, nor who we can be and what we need to be in our relationships. If the first relationship we were created for (with God) is not flowing properly, our whole relational system will be out of whack. In our relationships, we will end up losing ourselves instead of being and giving ourselves. We won’t know what to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to, what to internalize and what to reject, what to do and what not to do.
We make our relationships an enemy to what God is doing in our lives and to ourselves anytime we turn to them for things only God can and should be giving us. If we really stop and evaluate, it’s shocking how often and in how many ways we do this. Not only do the people we know pay a price, but we pay the ultimate price, and we have the insecurities, fears, and emptiness to show for it.
Now, here is the good news. God provides a system fix that is simple enough to remember and apply to our relationships! Even a caveman (or woman) can do it. And it you are like me, once you take hold of it and apply it, it can become a relationship revolution in your life!
Here is one of the places in scripture that show us the system fix…
Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
There are a lot of layers to the meaning of this passage and the entire Psalm itself. Yet a simple principal applies. God prepares a table of His presence, power, and perspective for us to have and use in our lives, particularly with things that threaten what God is trying to do in us and through us.
People are not the enemy, relationships are not the enemy, but the place and power we give them in our lives, how we handle them, and what we turn to them for can become an enemy. So, God prepares for us a table with Him first and foremost so that we can get our relationship system working right.
I recently heard a pastor talk about the importance of actually eating before he went to have a meal with another person or group of people. Sounded strange at first, but that way no matter what was served, or how much was served, he wouldn’t walk away starving.
I sense this is God’s invitation to us in Psalm 23. God wants us to realize that everything we need and want is found first and foremost in Him and Him alone. Every day and before every relationship interaction, we need to eat as His table, that way no matter what is or isn’t served in our relationships it won’t leave us longing, insecure, and unfulfilled. When we first sit at the table and fill up on God’s presence, power, perspective and proclamation over our lives, we won’t approach our relationships the same. We won’t be expecting them to be the main course in our lives nor fulfill our most important needs. Rather, we will be freed up emotionally and spiritually to truly love and be loved in return with a clear sense of what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to, what we need to give and what we shouldn’t give, what relationships we need to draw close, and which ones we need to love from a distance, what messages we should receive and which ones we should reject.
If you are receiving this wisdom from God, you know this is revolutionary, and the impact it could have in your life is revolutionary!
In fact, to make sure I receive this wisdom from God, I came up with the Relationship Revolution comprised of 5 simple statements I will feed off of before each day and my relationship interactions.
1- I am complete in Christ
2- I am deeply and forever loved and valued by Him
3- I have unique things He has given me of great value that I can share with others
4- I can love unconditionally without giving unlimited access or permission
5- Remember 1-4
I know this is already bringing a revolution of peace, wholeness, security, freedom and effectiveness in my relationship life, and I want to invite you to join me in having a Relationship Revolution.
Fill out the form below so as you commit yourself to this Relationship Revolution, I can pray for you. If later on, you have a story to tell of what God has done in your life through applying the Relationship Revolution, you can share it by writing it below in the form section “my story.” (scroll down).
Also, here is a link to a pdf document of the 5 simple statements of the Relationship Revolution (link).