In our human wisdom, we would settle for relational détente, but God wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we would see our need for a relationship with him as well as with others. Every painful thing we experience in relationships is meant to remind us of our need for him. And every good thing we experience is meant to be a metaphor of what we can only find in him.
To quote C. S. Lewis again, this primary vertical relationship is foundational to everything the Bible says about relationships. When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased. 2 It’s probably clear that what Lewis is describing is not always evident in your life. It’s not always evident in ours either. There are many indicators that reveal our tendency to reverse the order of things and put second things first. This is why we struggle with:
- Letting go of a moment of hurt.
- Getting angry at the way our teenagers complicate our lives.
- Becoming defensive when challenged.
- Avoiding conflict out of fear.
- Being too political at work.
- Being resigned to broken relationships that could be healed.
- Gossiping about people. Lying out of fear of what others will think.
- Compromising our convictions to win others’ approval.
- Pursuing comfortable relationships and avoiding difficult ones.
- Doubting God when our relationships are messy.
- Envying other people’s friendships.
- Controlling relationships out of a desire for security.
- Blowing up at people when our agendas are trampled.
- Living in bitter isolation in the face of disappointment
All of us need a clearer sense of what it means to put first things first and how Jesus enables us to do that. We also need to understand what practical changes are needed to create a new agenda for our relationships and what concrete steps we need to take as we seek to please God.
Lane, Timothy S.; Paul David Tripp (2006-11-01). Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (p. 8). New Growth Press. Kindle Edition.