Most of life's realties are complicated. One such reality is Christian relationship. It is easy to say we should love each other as God loves each of us. It is hard to love. It is easy to say that the forgiveness we each extend should reflect God's forgiveness. It is hard to forgive. It is easy to say each person has equal spiritual worth to God. It is hard to look at others as having "equal spiritual worth."

It is simple to justify our attitudes and behavior by declaring God's expectations are "unattainable goals" or "ideals rooted in perfection." Christian attitudes and behavior are rooted in God's ideal, perfect nature. However, that fact does not excuse ungodly attitudes and behavior in Christian interaction. To say, "Oh well, after all I am just human," misses the point of being Christian. A Christian, by choice and desire, seeks to "partake of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). What a commitment!

Godly relationships come hard for us. We are prone to be arrogantly condescending or intimidated, to be a selfish victimizer or a fearful victim, to exude superiority or to radiate weakness, to assert privilege or to accept worthlessness, to domineer or to be filled with anxiety. When we are "stuck in the middle" of one of those migrations, we become frustrated, angry, and resentful.

Any of those attitudes results in behavior that negatively impacts godly relationships. In fact, godly relationships require us to grow beyond ungodly attitudes and behavior. Only God makes such growth possible. For God to make such growth possible, we must be honest with ourselves and God about ungodly attitudes.

It is hard to be a godly spouse, a godly parent, a godly child, a godly friend, a godly employer/employee, a godly neighbor, or a godly stranger. Godliness in those situations requires godly relationships. It is more than a matter of "what I believe" or "what I am." It is also a matter of "how I treat others." The "being" part is hard. The "treating others" part is even more difficult.

Christians must understand what it means to be "individually members of one another" (Romans 12:5). If a person is committed to godliness, God has no preference for personality types. Why? God has use for each of us. Regardless of personality type, each person devoted to godliness is the product of the Creator who designed us in His image and likeness. Devotion to God should prepare us to relate to each other.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 July 2002

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