We should be good at relationships. We accomplish this not by doing things like everyone else, but by doing things differently. When we “make it weird” we make it better.
The common tools of relationship and communication are gossip, slander, criticism, judgment, anger, lies, and walking away. We could change that by responding with respect, kindness, understanding, and patience. That would make it weird.
But to do that we need to change our inner world. Our thought life drives our opinions and decisions. How can we make our thought life healthier and more like Jesus’ thought life?
Choose To Think
The Norm is to “Not” Think. Your smartphone and your social media accounts are designed to be addictive. The moment you interact with any form of social media, you have just entered a room with a billion people. These people are not vetted, filtered, or SAFE.
Welcome to the hamster wheel of reaction, emotion, and stress. We stop thinking or considering other perspectives. We begin defending. Anything that might oppose our view is immediately rejected because we are doing everything possible to hold our inner world together.
Ephesians 5:17 (NLT) Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
Understanding is the Point. You are challenged in the above reference to understand God. Has it ever occurred to you that God wishes to be understood to some degree?
And then there are others. Jesus asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38); “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matt.20:32; Mk.10:51; Lk.18:41) The first was with John and Andrew just after John the Baptist declared Jesus the Lamb of God. The second was posed to Bartimaeus outside of Jericho. Questions that seek to understand and give respect are very powerful.
Philippians 4:8 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Focus is the Way. You choose what you think about. Right now, you are choosing to think about something, nothing, or everything. But, you are powerful. You can choose your thoughts.
Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Choose To Think About Jesus
“ …throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life” Jesus has set you free. He has given you the truth about God and yourself. Are you really going to allow this broken, messed-up world to tell you what to think and how to live?m
“ …let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” Has it ever occurred to you, that so many wonderful things have never occurred to you? It’s time for some new thoughts.
Have you read much of Jesus? Jesus was always presenting BRAND NEW thoughts and attitudes. He presented a very different way to live. A way that didn’t actually reflect the world he lived in, but the world He came from. He spoke of the Kingdom all the time. The Kingdom is something NEW. It’s where you are from, now that you have surrendered to Jesus. It is the source of all things new.
“…Put on your new nature” It’s time to dress, behave, and carry yourself as a citizen of Heaven. Now is the time to learn how to live in the Kingdom. Jesus is your best model of what that is like. Choose to think about Jesus. Let his words and example propel you into a new future and ultimately, a new kingdom.
James 3:17 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
Choose To Think About Others
How Can I Bend? Maybe being RIGHT isn’t always God’s purpose for you. What if being WRONG isn’t actually a threat? What if, together is more important than right. What if understanding is more important than agreement? Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in absolutes. I’m not talking about surrendering your belief system. I am talking about making room in your belief system for those who aren’t like you. Didn’t Jesus HAVE to do that? After all, there was NO ONE like Him.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
How Can I Help? Helping is the attitude that says, “I am in this as long as you are in this. I will find a way to stay and help.” Isn’t it true that we are in very FEW relationships long enough to give anyone the good news about Jesus?
James 5:16 (NLT) Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
How Can I Pray? This may sound weird to you, but Christians pray. If prayer is weird to you, something is wrong. We should be comfortable with prayer and with praying.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Are people mostly wandering in and out of your life? What do you think about that? Do you harbor thoughts that infect or poison relationships? Sure, not EVERY relationship is for you. We need boundaries and limits BUT…
Christianity is relational. Ekklesia (church) is relational. Jesus isn’t coming back for YOU. He is coming back for His Bride. Learning how to live in and with relationships is important.
So, how can we pray about that? How can we pray about the relationships you are struggling with? What thoughts need to change so that your relationships are stronger?