Relationships. The world talks about having them and walking away from them, never confronting or healing them. The world tells us to think only of ourselves in relationships with each other. “If it doesn’t feel good”, walk away, shut them out, “unfriend” them or block them on social media altogether. Unfortunately, social media has become the artificial place of relationship. We then catch ourselves wondering if relationships with each other are worth pursuing so we keep our heads down, do life with only those we trust, which are few, and hope for the best as we live each ordinary day. We wake, eat, work, phones attached, sleep—in a life cycle that leads nowhere.
There has to be something better! There is and Paul has it! Read as he teaches us about the most important relationship we will ever have, the One relationship that builds all other relationships. He tells us Who must be at the center of our lives which determines the depth of love and compassion, patience and gentleness, mercy and grace for all other relationships we will have with each other.
This really works, friends! Early in my marriage to Randy, I discovered this important aspect of my growing relationship with Randy. The closer I became to Jesus, accepting His love and salvation, I also was growing to realize the depth of God’s love for me. I’ve still not realize this love yet! It is unfathomable! But, get this, the deeper my growing realization with God’s love becomes, the deeper and richer my loving relationship becomes for Randy. In other words, the more I realize, daily, the character of God’s limitless, forgiving, compassionate, forever love, the more dedicated my love is for Randy, our kids and grandkids and all others who live this temporary life with me.
At the center, is God’s love. At the center of all relationships is the relationship we have with God through Jesus, His Son. “We love Him becomes He first loved us”, says John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. (1 John 4:19) We build glorious, rich, loving relationships with each other because of knowing His love for us. John, again, explains;
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12
With this background in mind, Paul takes us deeper still with the love of God flowing from His heart for the readers. With God’s love in us, we need to settle all relationships from the center of His love in us. Yes, we are called to settle! Settle and make it right.
CORINTHIANS—CALLED AND SENT
2 Corinthians 5, The Message
1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
6-8 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
9-10 But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
11-14 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
A New Life
14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
21 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
- We’re only here for a little while.
- Jesus puts a little heaven in our hearts for what lies ahead for all who believe.
- Because of Jesus, who died and rose again, we also have the Hope of resurrection to live with Him forever!
- Our focused center: One man died for everyone. So, we don’t evaluate each other’s merit, we love each other because God loves us. EVERYONE gets a fresh start, a new life in Jesus, the Messiah.
- “All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.”
- God invites us to His work. “God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives.”
- “God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.”
SETTLE IT—ONCE AND FOR ALL!
“Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”
“How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”
To settle all other relationships, we must first settle our relationship with you. You loved me first. Thank you! I love you back with all my heart, mind and soul. In the time I have left on this earth, use me as your representative to point the way to you for a fresh start with a new life and new way to relate to you and then others. You have settled it once and for all, dear Jesus. Thank you. I believe. Make my desires your desires to settle all relationships with others motivated by your love in me.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen