Are You Ready To Fight?

When we look at the life of Jesus and everything he accomplished in his ministry, we can sometimes take for granted the emphasis Christ puts on relationships. We see him engaging with Peter, John, his mother, his community, and of course the multitude of people he healed. The list goes on and on because Jesus spent all of his time teaching, healing, fishing, eating, and loving people. Jesus was all about relationships.

And spoiler alert, that’s not because his relationships always went smoothly. He was hurt, rejected, experienced grief and sorrow.

Jesus experienced broken relationships with people he loved, Judas being the foremost that we know about. However, despite this relational pain, Jesus didn’t waver. Not only did he model a life of prioritizing relationships, but he changed our relationship with God and each other forever. Because of what he did for us on the cross, Jesus changed what is possible for us to experience relationally, on this side of heaven.

When we give our hearts to him, he fulfills and heals us from the inside out. Instantly we are made new creations, adopted, forgiven and made sons and daughters of the king. Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, our hearts fill with his love and that love overflows to others. This changes how we experience and express love, with God and others.

What is now possible and what we are now called to is a beautiful community of grace. We are invited to live as a part of the body of Christ. Inside this community, we are able to experience a depth of relationship that reflects the limitless love of the Holy Spirit. This opens the door to relationships that go deeper because the source of that love flows from an infinite well.

Do you see the difference of what is being offered to us here? The beauty of walking together in love? The possibility of connections with others where we are more fully known and more fully loved? Where we as brothers and sisters see the best and the worst of each other and don’t run away? Where shame is lessened as we walk in our new identities? There is so much hope in the picture that Jesus gives us for what relationships can look like.

But with this increased possibility, there is an equal potential for pain. Because we are still human and because we still sin, we are more than capable of hurting the ones we love most and being hurt by them. We know this because we have experienced it. The more we love, the more it will hurt when trust is broken. We have been hurt, abandoned, and rejected, in the past, as well as knowing we will be hurt by those we love in the future. Here is the reality. With the greater increase in depth of relationship, we shouldn’t be surprised at the increased potential to be hurt.

High trust relationships are so important. Relationships are central to our spiritual growth. They are a big deal, which means they’re despised by our enemy. It would be naïve to talk about the beauty of high-trust relationships without also acknowledging the possible pain the evil one would love to see realized. We know the playbook—his tricks are not new. From day one in the garden his plan has always been to spread confusion and division. To sow lies. It is our relationships that are the central battlefields for the war of our hearts. He knows that lies and confusion can lead to division, which leads many of us to protect and put up walls, limiting the love we give and receive. Love is the greatest commandment and our primary longing, which is why friendships, relationships, and unity as believers is a big deal.

Further, the more we mature in love, the greater the risk. If the depth of our relationships is an 8/10, the potential pain of that broken relationship is an 8/10, too. And with the risk so high, it’s no wonder the pain and trauma from broken relationships result in us building walls to keep others out. We think, “From now on, I will be good with depth of relationships at a 5 or 6 out of 10, because I’ve felt the pain of an 8/10 depth of relationship.”

We will do anything and everything to keep ourselves from feeling this pain again. We directly or indirectly believe that the inevitable pain of the heartbreak is not worth the blessing of fellowship. And that is exactly what the evil one would want. For us, in protection and fear, to miss out on the true, deep relationships we long for.

These walls and these patterns of protection for our hearts make sense. They are rational and justified. We have been hurt and we do not want to get hurt again. But this coping mechanism is born out of fear. When pain leads to protection, we are limited in our experience of love for God and others. Again, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and love others, which is why relationships are critical and foundational to our spiritual formation.

Relationships are central to our spiritual growth, and Jesus made depth of relationship possible at a different level for Christians. He arms us with the Holy Spirit to fight for relationships of love. He provides a model of forgiveness and repentance and serving others that takes away all excuses. He invites us—and calls us—into relationships of love. His perfect love casts out fear. This is the kingdom work that we are invited into and empowered to be able to do. To love deeply and boldly, standing out like stars in the sky.

Will we have the courage to trust God and others with our whole selves? Will we fight harder for relationships? Be slower to dismiss or move on from friendships? Will we build relationships with brothers and sisters where there is vulnerability and courage? Will we share our hearts in a way that we will become more fully known in order to be more fully loved?

Will we fight for our relationships, knowing the potential pain that might come?

It takes courage and intentionality to break down our walls, climb out of our ruts, and move towards true relationships. Stepping out from these hiding places may seem difficult, but Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit promise to empower, strengthen, and protect us. All we have to do is rely on our connection to the Holy Spirit as our source to love boldly.

When we enter the battlefield of relationships, our reward is experiencing the amazing fulfillment of being known and loved. With greater depths of love come greater potential for hurt and pain. Are we ready to fight to protect the depths of relationships Jesus makes possible? Fighting for relationships is not easy, but it’s worth it.

I want to leave you with a few things to think about.

  1. First, where have you experienced conflict and broken relationships with someone you have loved?
  2. Is it time to ask God if, armed with forgiveness and repentance, you should lean back in towards that relationship?
  1. How has the enemy used relational division to keep you from experiencing love?
  2. When you feel tempted to withdraw from authentic relationships, what feels scariest to you?


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