At Work & Public Square

Flourishing Requires Fixing Our Broken Relationships. But Where Do We Start?

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Sin has consequences.

It seems obvious, but sin has had a detrimental impact on our ability to flourish.

This is because sin has damaged the relationships that are so central to flourishing – with God, with ourselves, and with others.

Sin Alters Our Relationships with Others

The effects of Adam and Eve’s sin were not purely individual but also corporate, breaking down relationships between themselves and God and one another.

The original unity between Adam and Eve was broken: fear, distrust, shame, and disunity now entered the relationship.

They lost sight of each other as helpers and companions. Although their bodies were alive, something inside of them died. It was an internal death, affecting every aspect of their lives.

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned, God asked Adam,

Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

Then Adam replies,

The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.

Where there was once love, trust, and unity there is now only suspicion, distrust and conflict.

In this passage we have discord brought on through this now-broken relationship, leading to conflict between brothers, between neighbors, between cities, and finally between nations.

Hope for Broken Relationships

Our relationships with each other were established by God in the beginning so that we might corporately flourish and bring flourishing to his creation.

These relationships were hopelessly corrupted when sin entered the world. It is only through the redemptive work of Christ within us, his people, that these relationships can be restored.

Our response to God’s saving grace towards us should be our willingness to be obedient to his call in our own lives, including obedience to the commands that we love and forgive one another.

Jesus taught us that biblical love should be at the center of all our relationship with others (John 13:34), yet we can love only because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).

It is only through the power of his Spirit working within each believer that we can begin to restore our relationships with others to the way they are supposed to be.

A Biblical Challenge

The 2011 Lausanne Confession of Faith and a Call to Action frames our convictions and commitments in terms of love and suggests that as Christians we are taking up the most basic and demanding biblical challenge of all:

  • To love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength;
  • To love our neighbor (including the foreigner and the enemy) as ourselves;
  • To love one another as God in Christ has loved us, and,
  • To love the world with the love of the One who gave his only Son, that the world through him might be saved.

Dan Allender and Tremper Longman write in their book Bold Love:

I will not live with purpose and joy unless I love; I will not be able to love unless I forgive; and I will not forgive unless my hatred is continually melted by the searing truth and grace of the gospel. True biblical forgiveness is a glorious gift for both the offender and the offended…Love is unquestionably the highest calling a person can pursue.

We were not made to flourish except in community, and to do that we must restore the broken relationships we have with each other.

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