“And Day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and implicitly and generous hearts. Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people…”
– (Acts 2: 46-47).
Today, I want to start talking about relationships, because relationships are the key to active relational Christian mentoring (ARCM). Without forming a relationship, even just an acquaintance relationship, we cannot begin to actively mentor another person. So what is a relationship? A relationship is a continued communication association with another person. Initially a relationship is based upon a specific connection made between two individuals. In other words, each person within a relationship has formed a connection with the other person by getting to know them through interactions and communications within a particular environment or setting. We can have connections by blood, such as the relationship that we have with our parents, or we can have a connection or relationship with another through marriage or through our work environment. But, whether it is a friendship, a relative or a career-oriented relationship, individually we decide whether or not we will maintain or continue the relationship. All relationships between Christians and non-Christians, though, are formed in the same way: through communication and interaction.
The first relationship on this earth was between God and Adam. After God created Adam, He mentored Adam in what He expected from Adam. Every day God walked and talked with Adam. Then when God created Eve, Adam had a relationship with God and a relationship with Eve. Each of those relationships was different, but they both added to the life that Adam was living. Adam was to not only have a spousal relationship with Eve, but he was to have a mentoring relationship with her too. For, Adam was to teach Eve everything that he had learned from and about God.
But something happened along the way. Eve was enticed by Satan to believe that God had lied to them. She fell for Satan’s lie and ate of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even giving some fruit to Adam to eat. Sadly, their sinfulness ruined the perfect relationship that they had with God and each other. Now, they would live in a fallen world with all the trials and tribulations to follow.
God had wanted to develop a spiritual mentoring relationship with Adam and Eve based upon Truth and upon their love and reverence of Him. God also wanted a relationship with beings who would bring God all the glory He so richly deserved. How do we know this? Well, it is through God’s own Story or in His Biblical Scriptures, i.e. the Bible that we come to know that God created us to bring Him glory. For God told His prophet Isaiah that “They are my own people and I created them to bring Me glory.” – (Isaiah 43: 7. Good News Bible in Today’ English Version).
Although the devil tried to destroy the perfect relationship between Adam and Eve and God, He failed. Adam and Eve were given the promise of a Deliverer. Even though they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were still in a relationship with each other and that relationship would sustain them through even more harrowing times. Moreover, God did not abandon them, for they could still have a relationship with Him. It just wasn't that perfect relationship that they once had. Now, their relationship with God would have to be based on forgiveness of their sins through their sacrifices and offerings to God.
As children came along, Adam and Eve also had relationships with them. Eventually, as the population grew, they had relationships with extended family members and later with distant relatives. Each relationship was based upon getting to know the other person and filling a need or teaching someone something that they did not know. From women teaching other women how to cook, or from men teaching their sons how to hunt and gather food for the family, both the mothers and fathers mentored their children on what they needed to know to survive. Later, the mentoring would include, comforting, encouraging, and motivating another person when they needed help.
There are many different types of relationships and most contribute to our enjoyment of life. Our relationships can give us delight and add spice to our lives. Unfortunately some relationships can cause us grief and despair as well. Nonetheless, it is the many and varied relationships in our lives, including those relationships that we may not choose, that can help us to grow and mature in life. Some good relationships will groom us for a future of beauty, joy, and peace. Certainly, the relationship with Christ our Savior can be not only joyful and peaceful on this earth, but our relationship with Christ will also give us untold joy and peace in Heaven someday with Christ and His Father. In fact, the greatest relationship we can have is the relationship that we have with Christ. “Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not even now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the Salvation of your souls.” -- (I Peter 1: 8-9. Amplified).
The relationship that we have with God and His Son, Jesus Christ, gives us the strength that we need to get through this life. At the same time, this godly relationship provides love and support as well as comfort and encouragement as we face the travails of life. This Heavenly relationship ensures us that we will never have to face life alone. For, those who are “Saved” have our Heavenly Father and our Savior guarding our backs from the arrows of the devil and his minions. Moreover, we can always talk to God and receive answers to our prayers. He is always there to hear us and to provide comfort and peace. “And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him; [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.” – (I John 5: 14-15. Amplified).
God has provided us with the opportunity to have the best relationship we could ever have. It is the relationship we can have with Him and Jesus Christ. But God also provides earthly relationships to help us grow and learn what we need in order to survive here on this earth and to enjoy our lives. Actually the first thing that everyone has to understand before they can come to some kind of meaningful understanding of relationships is that God, the Trinity, created everything in the universe and this world including the concept of relationships. Yes, God created us! We did not spontaneously mutate from some primordial mud. Rather we have a Creator, God, Who created each one of us individually and Who continues to care for us and maintain the world we live in. Without God’s continued maintenance and care of this world, we could not and would not exist. (See Colossians 1: 16-17 and Hebrews 1: 1-3.).
Not only did God create us, but God loves us. God didn’t want robots, so He gave us free will to make decisions and to be able to live our lives the way that we wish. The Bible tells us that “Long before He laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.” – (Ephesians 1: 4. NLT). Even knowing that we would disappoint Him in so many ways, God still wanted to create us and have a relationship with each one of us.
God knew how important personal relationships would be to His Creation, because God was in a relationship with Christ, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Trinity of God is made up of the relationship between these three essences of God. The Apostle John wrote: “So there are three witnesses in Heaven: the Father, the Word (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One.” – (I John 5: 7. Amplified). However, God, the Trinity, also wanted a relationship with the people He had created. God wanted us to know the depth of His love for us. Only when we read the Bible from start to end, can we begin to discover how much God truly loves each of us individually.
God loves us so much that He wants each of us to be “Saved” and to come live with Him someday. But, God will not force any person to make the decision to trust in and believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. However, it is only by turning to Christ and trusting in Him for our Salvation that we can begin to know the depth of love that God has for us. It is only in developing a relationship with Christ and His Father that we can begin to realize what God had envisioned for us when He created us. It is only in living for Christ and serving others that we can begin to grow and mature in understanding and knowledge of our role in God’s Kingdom. This growth and maturity develops slowly which is why the Apostle Paul prayed, “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.” – (Ephesians 3: 17-18. NLT).
Even from the beginning, though, God knew that the people that He was creating would betray Him and His relationship with them by succumbing to the lies of the devil and turning against Him. However, God would not let us and our relationship with Him be destroyed by Satan and his lies. Since God is all-knowing, He knew that Adam and Eve would succumb to the devil’s lies, so from the beginning God planned to send a redemptive Savior, i.e. a Deliverer, to the world. Thankfully, our lack of love for God and our betrayal of His offered relationship did not stop God from loving us. Instead, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and to conquer eternal death. What the devil planned for evil by lying to people to keep them bound in Hell for all eternity was destroyed through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His subsequent conquering of eternal death for those who will believe on Christ. For, Christ is alive and residing at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. Now, no one has to spend eternity in Hell if they confess their sins and ask Christ to forgive them. Everyone can have a relationship with Christ if they so choose.
Next week, I will talk more about the mentoring responsibility and the relationships that all Christian women should share. For, “… if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].” – (I John 1: 7). Through active Christian fellowship with one another, we can emit Christian light to the world. Indeed, it is through our service to others and through loving others as we love ourselves, as we live for Christ that we can not only share the Gospel message, but keep ourselves focused on living for Christ. Sin creeps in when we neglect our relationship with Christ and fellowship with other Christians.
Next week, we will continue our discussion on Christian mentoring relationships. Until then, pray about who you could help through ARCM. Ask God to open the doors of your heart and to help you find the courage to help another woman through Christian mentoring. You can do it!