Relationship or Fellowship
What Is Relationship?
Relationship is a connection, kinship, affinity, association, a link between you and other people. There is the family relationship (blood-relationship) base on being born to the same parents or belonging to a family through adoption; or it could be a friendship relationship or school relationship (alma-mater- relationship) between those who attended the same school or relationship arising from attending the same Church or club or profession or as work colleagues etc. There are myriads of possible relationships. Also in a general sense, every creature has a creature/ Creator relationship with God. Pastor Tunde Ogedemgbe defines relationship as ‘the foundation of all identities. From our identities we get our affirmation, feelings of self-worth and self esteem. However whenever our relationship goes sour, it likewise affects our self-worth self esteem and sense of importance. Above all relationships is our relationship with God from which we derive our eternal identity.’
I quite agree that the most important relationship is our relationship with God which goes beyond the Creator / creature relationship to one base on being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, when we acknowledge that we are sinners and hence rebels and enemies of God and repent. This relationship with God will affect all other relationships and put them on sound footing if we invite God into those relationships.
Tenure of Relationships
Not all relationships are permanent or should be made permanent. We need to know when to end a relationship or when to accept that a relationship is over. Not everyone is meant for your ‘boat’. Some people are assigned to you for a short period of time, others for a longer period and yet others permanently. You need the wisdom of God to be able to differentiate these categories of people otherwise you may frustrate yourself holding on to people who have finished their assignment with and for you. There are others that you need to fight for because they belong to your boat and are being stolen from you or are deceived into leaving. However, you can only do this by prayer and often by prayer and fasting. There are others who will come into your ‘boat’ who may be attractive but do not belong there. You need to have the courage and the integrity of looking beyond the seen and praying them away rather than pricing them away or fighting with them to go away. The prodigal son had a relationship with his father but that relationship was broken when he felt he was old enough to handle life and wanted his inheritance which he took and left home for a far country. When he left home, he retained his relationship but the fellowship was broken. In the far country he had various relationships which were tenuous and flimsy. He had fair weather friends who perched when the money was flowing and flew when the bank went burst. On the other hand, the elder brother who had not left home did not have much fellowship with his father and that was why he did not know what he was entitled to, just as most of us because of lack of fellowship with the father, do not know who we are in Christ and what we have in Him.
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” Luke15:28-32
Barriers to fellowship
In our relationship with God sin breaks the fellowship, causes a chasm, introduces separation, darkness, alienation, estrangement, isolation, loss of joy and fear. Before Adam sinned, he had sweet fellowship with God. He was comfortable with the presence of God. However when he sinned he lost his innocence and stated to hide from God because he was afraid. The same happens to us when we sin against God. Prayer becomes difficult and so is Church attendance and the peace of God goes out the window. 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”Gen3:6-11 The Spirit of the age, like spirit of independence and isolation,( ‘I have need of nothing’ syndrome ) spirit of apathy (lukewarmness), lust of the eye , lust of the flesh and the pride of life(1John2:15-16) Sin undermines every relationship. When you become selfish your relationship suffers.
Communication and Fellowship
Communication is a major barrier to any relationship and lack of communication is because of lack of love. Communication takes various forms. You can communicate without speaking but you cannot have a good fellowship without speaking. So we are looking at effective communication. Culture can be a big: tradition, things people from a nationality do: the way people talk, dress, what they eat, all their socially acceptable behaviour. When we understand these differences in culture and accommodate them, we open up the opportunity for strong positive relationships. Every strong relationship underlined by fellowship and communication takes a lot of work and investment, give and take, perseverance and acceptance or tolerance. Restoring Fellowship No strong relationship happens without challenges, struggles, storms, and misunderstandings. We are all different and would see things differently many times on various issues. For us to have a strong relationship we would need to focus more on the things that unite us than on those that disunite us. We must learn to see the good in the other person, their strengths more than their weaknesses. We need to see them through the eyes of God. This is why a relationship with God is so important else you would relate with people for the wrong reasons and when that basis is eroded the relationship is over. Being able to forgiveness or saying ‘I am sorry’ is essential in restoring any fellowship. In our relationship with God, because of our human nature we will sin from time to time and the way back is by repenting, asking for forgiveness and receiving the forgiveness. It is one thing to ask for forgiveness, it is another thing to accept that you have been forgiven, by faith.
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(John1:7-9) We also need to forgive one another we sin against each other otherwise God will not forgive us. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Unforgiveness will hinder our prayers and our faith and our future: 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Have you ever wondered why it is written: ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive others their trespasses against us?’ It means if someone has wrong us and we forgive them partially (say 30%) and we are asking God forgiveness for our sins we are asking god also to forgive us 30% of our sins. And sins we know that God does not tolerate any % of sin we need to forgive totally.
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matt18:21-22
12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.Prov10:12 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
Let us pray:
Father, may I realise that my relationship with you is paramount. Help me, My God to cherish this relationship and avoid anything that would undermine it. Teach me the essence of fellowship with you on a regular basis so that I can grow and glow in grace to your glory. Bring me ,O God, to the place where my heart’s cry would be: ‘1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God….Ps42:1-2 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,’Phil3:10 Open my eyes to see through my relationships with people and to know which ones to maintain and nurture and which ones to extricate myself from in the light of my destiny. Illuminate my eyes mighty God to know those you have assigned to my both and how I should order my relationship healthily with them without undermining my relationship with You. Grant me the wisdom, My God, not to hold on to those whom you have sent on a specific assignment to my life for a specific time. Teach me to look to Jesus always- the Author and finisher of my faith. Thank You for forgiving me my sins. Help me to forgive others their sins and accept them as you have accepted me in the beloved. Teach me how to oil the engine of my intimacy with you and others you have called me to serve, in Jesus’ name. Amen.