God and Relationships is a pretty big topic. First of all, we have to set our starting point. God is a relational God. God created humanity in relationship with God.
The first human was Adam. One thing to keep in mind with Adam is that according to some translators and some Jewish traditions was without gender upon initial creation. It wasn’t until the “rib” was removed from Adam that the division of gender came about. This flies in the face of much of the Christian tradition, I understand, but it further emphasizes “two shall become one” and that it occurs (with the realm of Eden, before the fall) between man and woman.
This seeming aside is also important as God declared that it was not good for humanity to be alone. This is peculiar in that if God is in a relationship with them, then the human wasn’t alone. Even at the point of Eden (again, before the Fall), God understood (even created) the situation that a human would need human fellowship. It’s odd to say that God wasn’t enough, yet human history shows that there is something fundamentally different in human-to-human relationship versus human-to-God relationship.
Therefore, with all of this before us, there is a tension from the beginning of man and woman, their relationship with God, and their relationship with each other. The inherent need of humanity for relationship also extends, eventually, to fellow humans. God desires a relationship with humanity. Humanity needs relationship with humanity (even we strong introverts).
This may seem to be a lot of preamble. Human relationships are at the core of Paul’s message to the church.
We primarily focus on marriage because it is culturally (and often personally) significant. There is good reason to focus on it. There is also good reason to ignore it in these verses.
Paul makes it clear that while he is spiritually led regarding the church and the gospel (more at the end of these verses), he also has no clear direction from the Holy Spirit (at the beginning of the verses). This means that these verses, in particular, need to be viewed in context. Paul’s perspective is that Jesus would be returning shortly (days, weeks, months, maybe a year or so). Paul has an end-times view. Why, from Paul’s perspective, would you confuse the little remaining time in your life with that kind of intimate and focused human relationship?
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16–17, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” When we take context into consideration, we must also keep this passage in mind.
Paul’s highest concern is the Corinthians’ (and our) relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Paul recognizes that often our human relationships hinder our relationship with God. This can be a result of trauma from childhood to the spouse who has changed (or us who changed). Even healthy relationships may distract or interfere with a relationship with God. An unhealthy relationship will hinder it even more.
Our relationships with fellow humans really do deeply affect our relationship with God. One could even go so far as to say that if your relationships with humans are broken, so is your relationship with God. Yep, that one stings.
- What human relationships did you think of as being damaged? How might those relationships inhibit your relationship with God?
- What human relationships can you think of that are good or great? How might they inhibit your relationship with God?
God, we often say you are first in our lives, but the human relationships in our lives sometimes say different. Grant us discernment, healing, and grace to make them be what is best regarding our relationship with you. Amen.