Monday, April 2, 2012
The Reality of Relationships
2Cor. 2:1 So I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit.
2Cor. 2:2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?
2Cor. 2:3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you.
2Cor. 2:4 For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
This portion of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians gives us a glimpse of his humanity and the fact that very personal relationships were involved. There seems to have been a strain in relationships and when Paul had come previously it was a painful visit. Should he come again? He didn't want to cause trouble for anyone and if his presence was going to make things difficult, maybe he just shouldn't come. He would love it if his presence would cause joy to the church. There are two letters of Paul to Corinth that we do not have and we are not sure of their content. Was Paul hard on the congregation over a difficult issue? Obviously he had distressed over what to write and yet went forward with his note. He had written in love, and yet, possibly that motive had been misconstrued and there were those who had become greatly distressed at his writing.
There are times in life when we try, with the best of intentions, to share from hearts of love and the message is not received in that manner. That is the reality of relationships! We are all people who are in relationship with one another. Whenever sin gets in the way in our lives, it will damage relationships. I recently heard Diane Leclerc speaking at College Church at NNU where she brought up this very subject. Have you ever experienced sin without it damaging a relationship? No. Whether we're talking about our relationship with God, or our relationship with others. Sin destroys relationships.
If we have a relationship with someone that has been hurt or damaged, maybe we need to examine why. I believe Paul was willing to do this. He loved the people of Corinth. He did not want the relationship with them to be strained. If he was the source of the problem, he would try not continue the issue. He was doing all that he could to heal the rift which had occurred.
Our responsibility as followers of Christ is to do all we can to heal relationships. Why did Jesus say the greatest commandment was to "Love God" and then to "Love our neighbors?" Because he understood the very relational aspect of sin. If we love God and we love our neighbors there will be no room for sin in our lives.
As I look back on my life I know that there are times that I have not always done well with relationships. When I am personally attacked it makes it the most difficult. I think that's what Paul was experiencing here. I know that I tend to put up my defenses because I am hurt, and I really don't want to be hurt anymore. However, then I think about this week -- the week of Christ's Passion. He was willing to be hurt over and over and over again for the sake of God's kingdom. What about me? Shouldn't I be willing to walk that road together with my Savior and put myself out there in relationships -- willing to be hurt over and over and over again? The reality is that if we put ourselves out there in relationship with others, chances are, like Paul, we will be hurt. But this is where God is calling us -- we are to be faithful in the relationships of life. Love God -- Love your neighbor!
Lord, I confess that there are times when I am fearful about being hurt in relationships, but please, help me to move forward together with you. Amen.