Scott began last month’s devotional like this…
Ephraim, what will I do with you?
Judah, what will I do with you?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that vanishes quickly.
5 Therefore, I have attacked them by the prophets,
I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth like a light.
6 I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God instead of entirely burned offerings. Hosea 6:4-6, CEB
“God desires an earnest and committed relationship with his community of followers and will settle for nothing less as he himself is deeply committed to guiding his people through difficult times. This isn’t because God is a controlling jerk, it’s because he’s a loving, committed partner to/with his people. He cares about how he is treated, just like we care about how we’re treated. Weird thought, yes?”
Yes, that is a weird thought.
Later in the month, Scott talked about how a safe community must prioritize people over ideas. This is one example of how earnest and committed relationships work, we care more about people than we do about being convincing, right or smart. Last year took quite a toll on friendships. The political wrangling, the passion, the careless certainties and blatant failures to commit to listening for understanding rather than preparing for rebuttal have torn us apart.
We talk often about how our relationship with God can (and dare I say it – should) change the way we relate to one another. Many of us have ignored this principle as we have sought to hold onto our ideas at the price of caring for others whose ideas differ from our own. It’s hard to practice the principles that Jesus taught about loving our enemy, turning the other cheek, laying down our lives for our friends, etc. even though we love Jesus.
During the discord of this past election year, I learned another weird, not so obvious thing. I learned that my relationships with other people can change the way I relate to God. I found it actually harder to pray, more challenging to meditate, a chore to do my daily bible readings and studying was nigh near impossible. All this relational strain and tension sapped my strength for doing the very things that I most needed to thrive during a very turbulent season.
So my challenge to you is this, if you are having trouble “DOING” the very things that your heart is committed to, ask yourself this question: Is there any relational conflict that is draining my battery so low that I am not living the life I have chosen? If so, that issue may need to be addressed at some point. But not today!
To be continued….