The quality of your life and mine, both spiritually and emotionally, is directly proportional to the quality of the RELATIONSHIPS we have. The more people you truly love and are loved by, the easier it is to joyfully endure the often cruel assaults on life, also known as “fiery darts,” especially with a spouse. When things are wonderful, life is really good, and conversely, when things are dreadful, little else in life seems right.
Of course, our vertical relationship with God and with our Lord Jesus is the primary key to our horizontal relationships with our families and friends. The more we love God, the more we love our neighbors. The more intimate with, and thus responsive to, our Father and our Brother we are, the more precisely we love the people in our lives. My goal in this article is to help you to deepen all the relationships in your wonderful life.
1 John 1:3
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
The sweetness and the benefits of our fellowship (full sharing) with the Christian brethren in our lives are commensurate with the depth of our fellowship with our Heavenly Father and our precious Lord. Each of us has the awesome privilege of partnering with the Creator and His Son so as to help them accomplish their will on earth.
Here are some verses about the corporate partnership God has called you to have with Him and His Son.
2 Peter 1:3-4
“According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
1 Corinthians 1:9
“God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The divine nature that Jesus Christ placed within you (Acts 2:32-33) enables you to intimately know him and understand what it means to follow in his steps.
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
At least to some extent, following the Lord Jesus entails sharing in the sufferings that he endured as he stood for Truth in this twisted world. It also means sharing in the glory that will be his, and ours, at his appearing.
1 Peter 4:12-13
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
People who experience suffering can tend to be resentful or feel abandoned as if God could somehow make their suffering come to an end. But in fact, the fallen nature of the world and of humankind itself means that God cannot stop human suffering right now. He will stop it in the future, but He cannot stop it now. What is happening now as God’s people suffer fiery ordeals, is that Christ is suffering along with them.
In fact, no matter how intense the suffering anyone is suffering, Jesus Christ is right there with us suffering as well. So although the temptation is to be angry, resentful, or distant from God and Christ when we suffer, if we properly understand the fallen nature of the world, the spiritual war that is going on between Good and Evil, and the unity that Christ has with his people, we can rejoice in our sufferings like the Bible tells us to.
Being angry and distant with God does not stop suffering here on earth and it does not somehow give us a brighter future. If we can rejoice in our suffering, we stay closer to God and Christ, set a wonderful example for others here on earth, and can expectantly look forward to a future in which we will dance and shout with great joy.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
This verse describes a fundamental principle upon which the ensuing growth of Christianity was based. It shows us that genuine fellowship is based upon a likeminded belief of the truth of God’s Word.
2 Corinthians 8:23
As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.
So who are your best friends? Maybe defining “friend” will help you answer that question. A dictionary says, “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.” But here are some Scripture verses that significantly add to that definition:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from his heartfelt advice.”
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
To find a brother or sister in Christ who faithfully manifests these qualities is to find a great treasure, and one that we should do whatever it takes to hold onto. Who in your life is in that category? With whom do you have this kind of fellowship? What can you do to increase the number of such priceless people?
He who would have friends must be a friend. What does it take to be a true friend? Well, considering that any friend you have is beset with a sin nature that at times gets the better of him/her, I’d say you must be, among other things, loving, loyal, encouraging, truthful, honest, willing to confront, patient, forgiving, and faithful. At the bottom line, you don’t quit on someone when he/she disagrees with you or even wrongs you. Yes, there are limits and boundaries that you cannot allow to be repeatedly breached, but the verse below is the standard at which we draw that line:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
To have a vital relationship with others is the greatest purpose of all time, that of making known the truth and love of God and Christ, rescuing people from sin and death, is a joyous privilege that should energize us each day. Think about how much God desires to have a personal relationship with you, and to be a fellow laborer with the Lord Jesus, working hand-in-hand with them to achieve their glorious purposes among mankind. They walk and talk with you now, and one day they will richly reward you for your labor of love.