15 June 2008

Relationships by (God's) Design

Memory verse this week:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is. not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.
Relationships aren't a new concept. In the very beginning, God created man. He recognized that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So he created Eve for Adam. He created Eve out of Adam's rib, calling her woman because she was created from man. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Chip Ingram breaks this down into three parts: leave, cleave and become one flesh.

1) Leave: to separate emotionally, physically, and economically from your parents.
2) Cleave: to forge a bond between the two of you that nothing can separate - not even your own selfish desires. Thoughts must occur in "we," not in "I" or "me." You must put your spouse's interests above your own.
3) Become one flesh. There are four steps to this. The verse doesn't say "they are one flesh;" it says "become." It's a process:
- Spiritually: draw closer to God to gain his strength and wisdom for your marriage.
- Socially: have fun and enjoy life together.
- Emotionally - share your deepest thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
- Physically - as an act of love reflecting that all of these other steps toward oneness are occurring.

Looking for Love
- God's way (notes from articles by Chip Ingram)
Hollywood's Model of Finding a Relationship:
  1. Find the right person
  2. Fall in love
  3. Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfillment
  4. If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2, 3.
"The divorced population is the fastest growing marital category in the US, and the fallout is huge. The impact of fractured relationships on children, the anguish, the hurt, the emotional wounds, not to mention the economic impact on both parties, is painfully obvious. Now let's move to another perspective, and take a look at the model created by the One who thought up relationships in the first place."

God says, "Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Let's break it down.
1. Be imitators of God. Based on Ephesians 4:31-32, we can see how we should act:
- get rid of attitudes that tear down and hurt
- treat each other as God treated you when He extended His endless supply of grace and forgiveness to you, even at great cost to himself.
~If our identity is not secure in Christ, if we are still looking to others to make us feel secure, complete, or "okay," our relationships will never be healthy and strong.
2. Walk in love. This is an intentional, sacrificial love that swills and acts what is best for its object.
- become the right person (mimic God)
- walk in love
- fix your hope on God and seek to please Him through relationships
- If it fails? Repeat above steps. Failure will occur. When it does, the question must be, "Am I being who I should be? Am I walking in love?" It's not time to give up; it's time to go back to square one.

The Goal of the relationship is not fulfillment and self-actualization. It's not about discovering yourself, filling your need, meeting your desire. The goal of the relationship is to please God.


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