Have you ever had a divine relationship? Let me define that for you. I’m talking about a friendship or a marriage relationship that was God-ordained from start to finish or perhaps it’s still going on.
God never meant for man to be alone,1 in any capacity. When He made woman He even used those exact words.
Later He says He sets the lonely in families.2 And cares for families of the poor like well-cared-for sheep.3
Solomon says there are real friends that are closer than family.4 And in the New Testament Paul admonishes two women in the Church at Philippi to get along. Actually he told them to be of the same mind.5
The word family or families appears 240 times in the Bible. God cares desperately that people be in family or in relationship.
The relationships God desires for us to be in, though, should be with those who love the Lord. David says, “I am friend to all who fear You, to all who follow Your precepts.”6
Jesus told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for His friends.”7
If you are like me, you were saying, “Amen,” all the way up to that last verse.
You might say, “Wait a minute. Jesus was talking about Himself there, right? He doesn’t really expect us to do that does He?
It’s quite interesting that later, John repeats this in a little different way says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”8
John was saying that Jesus’ sacrificial love is the standard by which we should measure our love for our friends and fellow Christians.The standard by which any relationship becomes divine.
It brings up the question, when I say I love you, do I really mean I would die for you?
Jesus did for us. He went through the agony and death of the cross for us. He really is the only one who can truly be called our Friend.
Bringing it down to where we live, would we sacrifice anything for a friend?
Years ago, there was a single mother who went to our church. She happened to live on our street. Her car had to go in the shop and she needed to go to work. We had just bought a new car. Albeit, it was a Honda Civic stick shift with no air, but it was new.
We had a van and my husband had a motorcycle. We had two children at the time but they could ride in the van. We prayed about it and it seemed a no-brainer. We loaned her our new car, we had barely just bought it.
Because it was the right thing to do, it didn’t seem like a sacrifice. She was appreciative and brought it back as soon as she could. We were happy to share what we had. It was all God’s anyway.
Things like this have never been a big deal to us. However, it really wasn’t that much of a sacrifice was it? Well, maybe the day it rained and I had to take my husband to work and pick him up it was a bit. But still we had vehicles. She had none.
I think this is the spirit of what John was talking about here.
But I believe we need to take it 10 steps further and sacrifice time, energy, gifts, talents and resources to help those who don’t know Christ.
In Isaiah 58:6-7, God lays it on the line. He says fasting food as a ritual is not what He has chosen. Instead it is to do things like lift heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, share with the hungry, house the poor, clothe the naked.
And when we do all those things, He will guide us continually, satisfy our souls and strengthen our bones.9
In addition, those who we have helped will rebuild our cities.10 There are many other promises in Isaiah 61 when we love this extravagantly.
The most important one is that those whom we have helped with become the builders.
How do we help them? We do everything we can to show them we love them. From our abundance of family, friendship and relationship with God we extend to others and they don’t just get help, they become the ones who help us.
This is all in the marvelous economy of God called grace. When we extend grace to others, grace comes back to us.
It’s not the reason we extend grace, but it is how God chooses to raise up His army.
It all starts with learning to love like Jesus loved.
It all starts with a divine relationship with the One who loved supremely by laying down His life for us.
What gift do you bring to Him? Nothing, you say. Only myself.
What gifts has He given you? He has given me gifts of … and then name what He has given you, such as wisdom, teaching, prophesy, shepherding, encouraging, giving and many others.
Bring yourself to Him laden with the gifts He has given you. Surrender completely to Him and see the oppressed go free, the hungry fed, the naked clothed, the homeless set in homes, the solitary in families.
One woman or man fully surrendered to God can not help but make a divine difference.
1 Genesis 2:18, NLT
2 Psalms 68:6, NLT
3 Psalm 107:41 MSG
4 Proverbs 18:24 NLT
5 Philippians 4:1-4
6 Psalm 119:63
7 John 14:13
8 1 John 3:16
9 Isaiah 58:11, NKJV
10 Isaiah 61:4,NLT
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.