The kind of relationship that reflects the character of God is relationship of commitment. God is committed within the Trinity, and He is committed to us, His fallen creatures who He has created in His image, to reflect His character and dwell in His pleasure. It is the fallen part that makes relating and commitment so hard. We find it hard to love, hard to forgive, hard to just get along. However, if we will work through the challenges, delight in the God who made us, submit to the Holy Spirit given to us to help us as we struggle through relating, we will find richness, growth, and joy by standing firm in our committed relationships. “It is of Jehovah's lovingkindness that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24) God is loving and faithful to put up with us and see us through to the end. Will we reflect that loving faithfulness in our approach to those whom God has given us in relationship, whether they deserve it or not?
Relationships take work but they are worth it. God calls us to love those we find unlovable. Ron Lewis puts it like this, “The ultimate issue is simple. We must love one another. By loving one another, we present a powerful testimony to the world (John 13:35). Too often we are guilty of fighting each other and holding grudges and unforgiveness. The Lord has a higher walk for us, the way of love. He demonstrated this life and has called us to do the same. Jesus prayed for us before His crucifixion: “...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)”
When we read in James 1: 2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” do we apply it to the tough little places where relationship becomes a chore? Do I understand that in considering it joy to suffer through the trial of this relationship I find painful, my faith is being tested so that I might grow endurance? Can I understand that as I endure, God is cleaning out my own sin issues so that I may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing? It is so easy to miss the application of God’s word to my own life while I so plainly see where someone else should apply it. Relationship in the context of godly character means having the patience of Job or Moses or Abraham or Noah, or better yet, the patience and graciousness of Jesus Christ who died to give us a new life in Him. However, there isn't always a clear answer to the question, 'what would Jesus do?' If it were, then it would be easier to identify how to follow Him rather than our own agenda.
I am not as gracious or patient as Jesus. I have pulled away from relationships over the years because I was hurt or because I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation the relationship demanded. Sometimes I fail to confront because I am afraid to overstep my bounds or afraid that bringing up a topic will cause me to be rejected. I really hate confrontation and rejection. How often do I accept a superficial relationship because it is easier than being vulnerable or investing in the hard work of going deeper? How much do I miss in my own growth and joy because I think I am serving self by avoiding or running from what is hard or what is taking God too long to work out in my judgment? The fallen creature that I am too often is at the helm rather than the Holy Spirit Who has a wealth of patience and grace to pour through me if I will be receptive.