February 15, 2012

Working On Relationships With People

Yesterday, I wrote about working on our relationship with God in terms of how we treat people, and today, I'm going to make the logic completely circular, so to speak.

I'm an introvert, an extreme one. While I love having one on one conversations on subjects that are important to me, I have a very hard time with small talk and surface-level social conversations in group settings. What makes it worse is that some days my "give-a-flip" mechanism isn't working properly. It takes all the effort I have in me to simply smile and give a kind word to a stranger. But, at the same time, I know I can't live a fulfilling life, or the life God would have me live, if I stay in that mode.

To get out of that, I have to do some of the spiritual activities things that Beck wrote of in his blog post that can be misused as a substitute for simply being a decent person. I have to spend time in prayer and meditation, writing to clarify my thoughts, attending church services, and studying and internalizing His Word. Without those things, I have a difficult time keeping His will for how I relate to you in the front of my mind.

I've heard (as many of you may have) our spiritual relationships described using the Cross as an analogy. Think of the vertical bar of the Cross as the relationship between us and God, and the horizontal bar as our relationships between each other. And usually when we hear this analogy being used, the emphasis is on the horizontal bar, and how it needs to be complete and whole in order to have the vertical bar of our relationship with God to be right.

While there is a great deal of truth in that analogy, it's an incomplete picture of the dynamics of the entire process.

I'm glad that I don't have to get the human relationships fully corrected in order to have a relationship with God. I couldn't do it on my own.

For me (and I suspect many others, as well) the dynamic is circular. I have to reach out to God for His wisdom, healing, and power, so that I can have the strength and peace to reach out to others. As my relationship with people becomes stronger and deeper, my desire to strengthen my relationship with God increases.

I have to wake up and think about the things that are true, noble, right, pure, beautiful, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy to face the things in the world (and in each of us) that are false, crass, wrong, contaminated, ugly, loathsome, unworthy, and contemptible.

I have to ask for His help to relate properly to you, because only if I do that can I properly relate to myself.

I have to praise Him, so that I can see what is praiseworthy in you.

I have to focus on the beauty of His love, grace, and mercy for us to see the beauty that is within each of us.

I have to meditate on His suffering for our sins to see and touch the suffering in you.

Those five statements are also true in reverse. A feedback loop that goes both directions.

In Christ the whole fullness of God dwells bodily, and in Him we are filled. The feedback loop brings a deeper understanding of that into my heart

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