Copyright © 2016 Grace Family Church or Rhode Island
The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
Sharon1 was barely able to hold back her tears as she walked into our office. She was visibly distressed, and it did not take long to find out why. Her hopes and dreams were shattered, and her entire life seemed to have stopped making sense altogether. She was lost, desperate, in deep emotional pain, and incapable of thinking enough to react in any constructive way. Her most intimate relationship of many years had just been shattered as she learned that her husband had filed for divorce.
It may not always be something as drastic as a divorce, but most of the people who walk into a pastor's or a counselor’s office do so because they have been experiencing problems in their relationships. This simple fact should not surprise us because just about every aspect of our life reveals that we are indeed relational creatures. From the brief contacts we occasionally have with a store keeper to a lifelong marriage — the most intimate of all human relationships — we seem to spend our life in a relational continuum, always sharing some part of ourselves with someone else. Yet, most of these exchanges and relational experiences are unplanned, and often not even noticed. Some reflect happy moments and shape fond memories; others become a source of stress and emotional turmoil.
It is clear that relationships are extremely important for all of us. I remember, while in college, hearing of an experiment that had been conducted somewhere in the old USSR in the attempt to discover some clues as to what could be a universal language. The theory behind the experiment was that if a group of children were kept isolated from any external influence since birth, and only interact with each other, they would develop a language that is the most natural to human beings. Everything the babies needed to be healthy was provided, but no human contact outside of their own group was allowed. Surprisingly, the babies started to die inexplicably. No illness was reported. Nothing physiological could explain their deaths. They concluded that the babies needed more than nutrition and hygiene. They needed human contact, the touch of a loving parent, the warmth of someone who could care for them.
More recent studies have confirmed that our relationships affect our health. Elderly people with strong friendships, for example, tend to have healthier immune systems and lower levels of cholesterol and uric acid. From an emotional perspective, friends also provide acceptance and encouragement, and can help us keep a realistic perspective or prevent potential errors.2
The fact is that we were created as relational beings. We need relationships, in particular with our creator God. As we look at this very important subject, we need to understand how we were made, and why. Building upon this foundation, we find that we can look at our human relationships from a different perspective, one that enables us to finally understand what makes them work and what does not.
The questions people ask are many. What causes relationships to work out as they do? Why are they so important to us? What can we do to ensure that we experience them in a way that is enriching and deeply rewarding? These are very important questions, and the good news is that the answers are available. We don’t have to walk through this relational continuum blindfolded, or as victims of circumstances. The answers, however, are not found in the latest sociological trends, but rather in the time-
1 Names and other identifying information have been changed throughout this book in order to protect the identity of the people involved in the case scenarios. The essential nature of the cases, however, has been carefully preserved.
2 Jeanne Zornes, "What Are Friendships For?," Today's Christian Woman, May/Jun 1993, 52-
This article is the introduction for a series on relationships from a Christians perspective. Additional articles will address the nature of human relationships, the problems we often encounter as well as the solutions that the Lord has made available to us in His word.
|Articles and Bible Studies|
|Word of Hope|
|Getting to Know God|
|Suffering and Grief|
|Faith in a Secular World|
|An Introduction to God|
|Does the Trinity Teach Three Gods?|
|An Introduction to God|
|Responding to God with Faith|
|Brief Guide to Bible Translations|
|Spiritual First Aid from the Word of God|
|A Glimpse Into Eternity|
|Why You Need the Church|
|The People of God|
|Looking for the Ideal Church|
|Created to Relate|
|Where Was God?|
|Evolution: Fact of Faith?|
|Word of Hope Podcasts|
|Statement of Beliefs|
|Historical Documents of the Christian Church|