Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Pandemic Perspective – Part 7 Relationships

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Another gift of this pandemic is time to focus on why we are really here, relationships not riches. It’s easy to see the effects this virus is having on people’s physical health but the less obvious is the toll it is taking on our emotional heath. We were created for intimacy not isolation. The other day while I was out cutting firewood a guy drove onto my place. At first, I thought he was lost or looking for someone that lived nearby, turns out he was lonely. He was an older gentleman who had been stuck at home alone for weeks. He decided to go for a drive and when he saw me he pulled in to see was I was doing. Here is the question, did I care? I had firewood to cut, I have a wife to talk to, I am not lonely. So often we base our interactions on where we are at, what we need or want instead of the needs of others. Instead seeing it as a time for interaction we see it as an interruption. I would never have known what was going on in this man’s life if I hadn’t taken the time to talk to him. That’s just it, people take time, something we have more of these days, not because there is more time but because Covid-19 is changing how we spend it. But what about when the pandemic is over, will we still have time for what matters most, people? During Jesus’ final week before his death we learn in Matthew 22:34-40 that an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus responded with s startling revelation about relationships, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” What Jesus does not say is that the law and the prophets hang on these 2 things, rule keeping and not measuring up. Instead He says that ALL of the Law and Prophets hang on ‘relationships.’ When asked to sum up the greatest rule Jesus reversed it and talked not about rules but relationships. When God created us, He hardwired us for three relationships, a relationship with Him, with others and a healthy relationship with ourselves. Love God, Love others, Love yourself. Authentic Christianity means that we love God with all that we are both inwardly, our heart and soul this is loving Him passionately and our mind this is loving Him thoughtfully.  This is not just merely a knowledge of God but a pursuit of understanding God, who He is how He works and what His desire is for our lives. But we are not just called to love Him inwardly but also outwardly, with all our Strength. This is loving Him practically, meaning that we are authentic, our attitudes and motivations are seen through our actions. But loving God also involves loving others, this is loving Him socially. The outflow of loving God should lead to an overflow of loving people. 1 John 4:20-21 says “If anyone boasts, I love God, and then goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar.  Christ’s command is blunt, loving God includes loving people. John 13:34-35 reminds us that loving our neighbor reflects our love for God, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The relationship that I have with my wife is a reflection of the relationship I have with God! We were built for relationship. God said of Adam: “It is not good for man to be alone.” In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a special relationship with God. He gave Adam everything he needed: a perfect environment all the food he needed, purposeful work, and yet God looked at Adam and said, “He needs more. He needs a companion.” Which came in the form of a spouse, a help mate and friend. God has created us with an innate need for relationships, family, friends, fellow-Christians, co-workers, classmates and so on. The second command is about pouring out the love of God with our neighbors. But who is my neighbor? A young lawyer asked Jesus this same question 2000 years ago in Luke 10:30-37.  Jesus answers this question with the story of the Good Samaritan. There was a man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he is attacked by robbers who beat him, take his clothes and money, and leave him on the road half dead. A priest was on his way down the very same road, but when he saw the man he crossed over to the other side. A little later a Levite, a religious man was on his way down the road as well and when he saw the man, he too, went by him on the other side of the road. After this man came a Samaritan, the despised enemies of the Jews, but when he saw the man his heart went out to him. He gave the man first aid, disinfected and bandaged his wounds. He put him on his donkey and took the injured man to an inn where he gave the innkeeper money to take care of him. Jesus then asks the young lawyer, who the neighbor was in the story, obviously the one who cared for him. Jesus then tells the man to go and do likewise. The parable offers a vision of life instead of death, insisting that enemies can prove to be neighbors. That compassion should have no boundaries and that judging people on the basis of their religion or ethnicity will leave us dying in a ditch. I think this story is great not because of the story itself but the way in which Jesus answers the man’s question. The man asks Who is my neighbor? In other words, who is it that I have to love?  He wants something to do a rule to obey. Jesus answers by saying, Be a neighbor.  Jesus tells the man an attitude to embody, that of a loving person. Loving your neighbor isn’t a rule to obey it’s an attitude to embody. Loving our spouse, kids, or neighbors isn’t a rule to obey it’s an attitude to embody and live out. In your relationships are you the Priest, the Levite or the Good Samaritan? Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Loving your neighbor means that you do for them whatever you would do for yourself. When you have a need, you attempt to meet it. When you have a hurt, you attempt to heal it. When you have a responsibility, you attempt to fulfill it. When you have a prayer request, you pray for it! For many of us loving ourselves comes easily, we have become experts at it. The trick is to keep self-love from becoming selfishness. Loving your neighbor requires action. It’s not enough to be concerned. It’s not enough to feel compassion. You have to get involved. You have to get a little blood on your toga and dirt on your kneecaps. You have to invest some of your time and give of your treasures. You have to do whatever it takes to take care of your neighbor, just as you do whatever it takes to take care of yourself. So, what about my neighbor who as it turned out just needed someone to talk to, was he worthy of my time? Did I value cutting firewood, work more than relationship? No, this pandemic has reminded me that while we need cash, we need connection more. So, I set my saw aside and discovered my neighbors need. All it cost me was a little time. But how often do we miss connection because we dismiss caring? Right now, we have time, but when this pandemic is over will we make the time, or will our careers be more important than connection? Who do you know that needs loved today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Pandemic Perspective – Part 7 Relationships

  1. Thank you Giles for your biblical knowledge on this pandemic I needed to read and hear this today. Don Ullrich

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