Hi everyone. Rob here.
Last week, former All Black Jerry Collins died in a car accident in France along with his wife Alana. Their baby girl, Ayla remains in critical condition in hospital. Why have so many New Zealanders and rugby fans from around the world been so affected by his death compared to, say, the multiple deaths that are happening in Syria and Iraq every day? The answer, of course, is personal connection. I never met Jerry but I’m a rugby fan and watched nearly every test match he played. He was, therefore, a part of me, albeit a small part. When people who have been part of our lives pass away there’s a part of us that feels that loss and grieves.
What this shows is that we are made for connection and it is good practice to reflect on our connections regularly to ensure they are in good health. After all we check the connections in our cars, on our TV’s and our computers and get frustrated if they’re not working properly. How much more our connections with people!
If we’re hard-wired for connection then it makes sense to me that we learn to become connection-savvy. That is, are our relationships healthy? Are they feeding our hearts and the hearts of the people we connect with? Do they give life or drain life from you? What needs to change? Is it you, them, both or do you need to disconnect? This is an area where we desperately need God to guide us and lead us. We simply don’t have a good handle on our personal connections if our connection with God is broken. If our human relationships are broken then our own relationship with God is our starting point.
Years ago when our marriage was under serious strain I would often take off to a quiet spot on our local university campus with my journal to have it out with God. I would write out my feelings, how I perceived the situation and once I had my rant I would have space inside for God to speak. And he did. He would reveal where I needed to change, apologise and relent. He would expose my pride, my control, my misperceptions. Our marriage survived because we both had a relationship with him in which we were open to being changed by his Spirit. Our identity, our strength and our hope increasingly came from God and not each other. We then became able to give to each other and not take. Because our lives were coming from God, even if the marriage failed, we would have become better people and been ok I believe. Not as good as we are now, but ok.
So, how are your relationships? Where is there strain, struggle or discord? What are the relationships where you most feel like yourself and least feel like yourself? Why or why not? Are people built up by being with you, especially your children and loved ones? Are you giving or are you taking? Is God your source of life or are you asking too much of the people in your life?
In the books of Ephesians and Colossians Paul directly addresses the relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and slaves. In Ephesians 5:21 he introduces the subject of relationships with this phrase:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
Humility is a key to relational success because it leads us to serve out of strength. We serve because we are connected with Christ and not because we’re trying to get something. We serve out of love because Christ’s love for us compels us into loving action. Mutual serving leads to mutual respect which leads to mutual companionship which leads to a life of love. As Paul says in Galatians 5:13,
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love.