Today is Reconnect Sunday. I want us to think about the five relationship connections we all experience. God wants you to grow in all five of these. These five relationship connections are crucial for your spiritual growth, joy, and peace.
The five relationship connections are…
- God’s relationship with you
- Your relationship with God
- Your relationship with others
- Others relationship with you
- Your relationship with you
Before we look at each one, let me give you some general observations.
First, no matter where you open God’s Word, you are going to encounter at least one of these on that page. These are important to God. You find them everyone throughout the Bible. You will hear about them over and over and over again throughout the Scripture.
Second, sin has contaminated these relationships. This is why we need Jesus and His Word. Sin has greatly impacted our relationship with God, with others, and ourselves. God’s Word addresses this issue on every page.
Third, each one affects the others. How you relate to God will impact how you to relate to others and how you see yourself. How you see yourself will influence how you treat others.
Fourth, at this moment, God is working on at least one of these in your life. As we go through these today, you will probably notice that one stands out to you more than the others. That’s the one God is focusing on in your life right now.
Let’s get started.
God’s relationship with you
Number one, God’s relationship with you. God created you because He wanted to have a relationship with you. You are wanted by God. God wants to show His love for you. He wants you to experience His love in your life. God is always showing His love to you, you just don’t recognize it sometimes.
First, God loves you enough to show you He loves you. Romans 5:8 says, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). God’s love is visible, not invisible. God’s love has never been hidden, nor kept a secret. He fully displayed the width, the depth, and height of His love when Jesus died on the cross for your sin. God just didn’t say He loved you, be demonstrated it through Christ on the cross.
Second, God loves you enough to sacrifice for you. God’s love is not only visible, but it is also sacrificial. True love is always willing to pay the price for the benefit of another. The most famous statement in the Bible reveals this truth. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (NLT). If you want to measure God’s love for you, then look at the price tag He was willing to pay for you.
Third, God loves you enough to accept you as you are. God’s love is unconditional. You don’t have to meet a certain standard for God’s love. Listen carefully to Romans 5:8 again, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). God loved you while you were still a sinner. This means that while you didn’t believe in Him, while you didn’t love Him, while you were rebelling against Him, while you were ignoring Him, while you were doing anything you wanted to do without acknowledging Him God loved you. He loved you in your worse condition. He loved you just as you were and just as you are.
Fourth, God loves you enough to not leave you as you are. God’s love is big enough to accept you as you are and big enough to take you where you need to be. Listen to Hebrews 12:6, “The Lord disciplines those He loves” (NLT). The word “discipline” means correction, training, improvement, or adjustment. God’s love wants you to reach your potential in life and the way God helps us do that is through discipline and correction. When your child disobeys you and you ground them, spank them, or withhold certain privileges from them… do you hate them or love them when you do that? You correct them because you love them. The same is true for God, when you are being disciplined by God He is doing that because He loves you.
God wants to have a loving relationship with you. He demonstrates this desire by what He does and says. He says He loves you and He shows you that He loves you. God is reaching out to you. He wants to connect with you on a deep level.
Your relationship with God
This brings us to number two. Not only do you need to consider God’s relationship with you, but you need to consider your relationship with God. Jesus summarized our relationship with God and our love for God like this in Matthew 22, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind” (v.38, NLT). In the big picture, this simply means with everything you have and with everything you are. However, I think it would be helpful to dissect this phrase into three parts and examine each one a little closer.
First, we are to love God with all our heart. This refers to the core of who you are, but with an emphasis on the will. The will deals with your behavior, actions, and choices. It deals with what you do (Matt. 12:35; 7:20; 1 Peter 2:12, James 1:22). We are to love God with our heart, our actions, and demonstrate that love with our behavior.
Second, we are to love God with all our soul. The term “soul” is closest to what we would call emotion and is the word Jesus used when He cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was arrested. Jesus said, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matt. 26:38, NLT). When we are talking about the soul we must include our emotions, feelings, attitudes, and convictions. Jesus is saying let your emotions, feelings, attitudes and convictions express your love for Him. It’s okay to get emotional about Jesus and the things of God (Prov. 3:21; 16:24; 14:23; Eph. 4:21). We express our love to God with our emotions.
Third, we are to love God with all our mind. This deals with our intellect, our understanding, and our thinking. The Bible has a lot to say about the mind and our thoughts. We are to let God change the way we think (Rom. 12:2). We are to fix our thoughts on what is true and excellent (Philip. 4:8). We are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). We express our love to God with how we think.
Love God with all your…
Before we wrap this section up on expressing our love to God. I want to mention one more.
We love God with our obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, obey My commandments” (NLT). The way we express our love to God is simply to do what He says. By obeying Him we are demonstrating that we trust Him and love Him. This is why it’s important to stay in God’s Word. It’s in God’s Word where God gives us instructions for our lives and as we obey them we are demonstrating our commitment and love to Him. We express our love to God by obeying Him.
Your relationship with others
God wants a loving relationship with you and you want a loving relationship with Him. Because of that love relationship between God and you, it will effect the next aspect of your relationships: Your relationship with others. When you understand you are loved by God and you are growing in your love for Him, it impacts how you love others. Jesus summarized it this way in Mattthew 22:39 when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Your neighbor can range from the person across the room or across the world.
First, love your neighbor prayerfully. Love your neighbor even if they are mean to you. Jesus said, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of Your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:43-45, NLT). You need to pray for your neighbor, but especially those people in your life that hate you, don’t like you, and clash with you.
Secondly, love your neighbor authentically. Romans 12:9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (vs.9-10, NLT). Ask God to give you a “genuine affection” for the people in your life and find a way to “delight in honoring each other.” Honor the people in your life. Find joy in being able to lift them up.
Third, love your neighbor graciously. Ephesians 4:2 says “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (NLT). Everybody in your life has rough edges. They are going to say things that offend you, hurt you, and annoy you. But because you love them you are going to be patient with them, you are going to make allowance for their faults. You are not going to demand perfection. You are not going to be unrealistic in your expectations of people. You are going to be gracious toward them.
Others relationship with you
This brings us to number four. You not only have to relate to others, but you must relate from others. Relationships are a give and take. Relationships are a two way street.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, “May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (NLT). There is a give and take when it comes to love. I love you and you love me. It’s one thing to love people, but it’s another thing to receive love from people. Some of us don’t know how to receive love from others very well.
Sometimes love comes in the form of a blessing, a gift, a service, assistance, advice or counseling. Sometimes that love comes in the form of a rebuke, correction, or admonishment. Whatever form that love comes in we need to be able to recognize it and receive it. There are people in our life expressing love to you the only way they know how. Receive it.
Your relationship with you
What do we have so far? We have your relationship with God: God relating to you and you relating to God. Then we have your relationship with others: You relating to them and them relating to you. The last area of relationship connection is your relationship with you.
Notice carefully what Jesus said in Matthew 22, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 39, NLT). This doesn’t mean being selfish, but it does mean you respect yourself and you see yourself as valuable and significant. You are a creation of God. God has a plan and purpose for your life. You care about your own physical health, emotional and mental development, along with your spiritual growth. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of others.
At Genesis you will hear a lot about these five aspects of love.
- We want to help you grow and mature in each one. From sermons to Life Groups to ministries to experiences we want to create opportunities and environments for you to experience these various aspects of love.
- As you grow in these areas, you are going to be a better person, a better parent, a better spouse, a better employee, and a better you.
- I am asking you today to commit and dedicate yourself to spiritually growing. Place yourself in environments where God can work on you. Spend time reading God’s Word and talking to Him. Make attending church and listening to God’s Word taught a priority for you and your family. Gather with other believers to discuss how to apply God’s Word to your life. Reconnect.
If you need to talk to someone about one of these aspects of love, we would love to sit down with you and have a real conversation with you with where you are at and what God may be saying to you.
- Of the five relationship connections mentioned above, which one does it seem God is emphasizing in your life right now? Explain.
- Which one of the five relationship connections do you think you need the most work on? Why is that?
- What about God’s desire to connect with you and have a relationship with you impresses you the most? What questions do you have about God’s relationship with you?
- What would loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind look like in your life if you were grow in these areas? What keeps you from loving God deeper?
- Why is it difficult to love some people? What does loving the people in your life prayerfully, authentically, and graciously look like for you in real life?
- Do you receive love from others easily? Why or why not? How do you recognize someone is loving you?
- What do you think about yourself? What’s the difference between loving yourself and being selfish?