Your Midlife Relationships {A 31 Day Celebration of All Things Middle}

The doctrine of the Trinity.  God - three distinct persons, one God.  This doctrine of the triune God sets Christianity apart from all the other religions of the world.

And it is the baseline from which we understand our relationships and live in relationship with others.

We "experience" community.  God is community.  We "have" relationships.  God is relationship.  To say "God is relationship" is equal to the Biblical verity that "God is love".  It is to say the same thing.

You cannot be a Christian in your functional beliefs, and not value relationships.  You can be a Christian as a non-functioning a creed, or a system of top-shelf "doctrines",  or as a form of moralism, and be highly individualistic and idealistic.  Yes, you can get away with that.  You can be one of the many who worship God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. 

But you simply cannot say that you love God, and not have a rich tapestry of messy-beautiful relationships.  You cannot say that you love God, and yet you are not part of a body of believers who are living out the Gospel, however imperfectly and however painfully.

New Testament  Christianity is null, void, and pointless without relationships.  Messy, beautiful, tedious, painful, imperfect, blessed, inconsistent and consistent relationships...with actual people who have faults and quirks and glaring imperfections.  Love is a moot point without a real person who tries your patience, and of whom you are sometimes tempted to believe the worst instead of the best.

If you live all to yourself and for yourself, however lovely your lifestyle may be, however beautiful your home, however grand is your plan to share your life with others (without ever actually sharing your life with others) you are a useless rock. 

One stone, all by itself, is either useless...or commonly used as a weapon in the hands of the enemy.  But one stone, built with lots of other stones becomes a metaphor for the very temple of God.

What you believe about the Gospel has everything to do with how you engage the hard work of maintaining right relationships with others.

We must be fully identified by the grace of God - His unearned, undeserved favor and blessing, apart from any list of "to do's".  Otherwise, we will get our identity from another person - by watching them too closely, listening to them too literally, and needing them too fundamentally.  And when they can no longer deliver the goods, we all but extinguish the relationship.

This is sad.  Too many people say they are believers, but in reality  most  of their significant relationships are either dead or on life support.  I want you to think about each one of yours...more than anything else in this world, it is important to be honest.  Gut-level truth only, here.

Your significant relationships:  How many are flourishing?  How many are dead?  How many are on life support?  How many are going along to get along?

Thank God for Christ Jesus!  In Him there is no condemnation, just the opportunity to participate in newness of life. 

It is precisely in middle age that the wear and tear on significant relationships shows up.  No one is exempt, no one is immune, no one has a perfect track record in this area.  Regret is in the very atmosphere of this world. 

Only through the Finished Work of the Cross can you breathe in the atmosphere of eternity, where there is  always  time, where it is always a good time to say "I'm sorry", where we have been given the job ("ministry"...remember, ministry is work) of reconciliation, and where there is endless grace to help in our time of need. nothing...matures us like having right relationships, and nothing brings us running to the throne of grace for help faster than maintaining right relationships.

Relationships.  A mess worth making.

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