Shaken Week 5: Relationships
Well, good morning to everybody, and also to those who watch via the mobile app and the internet page. I just want to say something to everybody, and also to you all who watch that way. Can I just say something? I love all of you all. Okay? I really do. I love all of you all. And we’re in a five-week series. This is week number five, believe it or not. A series call “Shaken.” If you’re brand new let me put you at ease. I promise you. You’re probably thinking, “Oh my goodness, I walked in five weeks into a five-week series. I’m not going to know anything.” No. You will. I’ll bring everybody back up to speed if you missed a week or two. Everybody will be brought back up to speed.
What we’re doing in this particular series is we’re looking at the areas in our lives where we’re shaken. Just like the title says. Where our world falls apart and just everything gets sort of shattered. What do we do when those things happen? What do we do when we lose a job? What do we do when we lose a relationship? What do we do when we go through a divorce? What do we when we lose a loved one or someone that we really cared about? Those are tough situations and often times we don’t talk about that stuff. And since we don’t talk about it we really don’t know what to do when those things happen.
And so, over the last four weeks, we’re trying toggle everybody some tools to put in their toolbox so that you’re equipped to handle some of the difficulties that happen in life when you and I are shaken. And we’ve done a lot of work in this series. I mean, we’ve looked at when our finances collapse. It’s a tough situation. We’ve looked at when our hopes and dreams have gone awry. What do we do then when we’re shaken there? What do we do when we’re having a crisis of faith? We’ve looked at how to have the lens to look at this stuff through.
And today we’re going to look at one more issue that I think is a very significant issue. And I’ve tried to touch the large, big issues of our lives that everything else sort of falls underneath. I think finances, hopes and dreams, crisis of faith. And I think this last one will sort of buttress the other three to where we’ve sort of dealt with the large chunks of life.
And what we’re going to deal with this weekend is we’re going to deal with relationships. And I think anybody would agree that’s a tough situation when we’re shaken there. And I want to say up front here, this is really important. Please listen to me, because this is so important. Some of you all are going through life right now and life is good. You’re going, “I don’t have a lot of strained relationships.” That’s awesome. Just take some good notes. Precautionary notes. Maybe some preventative notes. But some of you all are going through difficulties right now, or just the fact that I brought this up drudged up stuff in your life.
I am not wanting to cause anybody any harm. I don’t want to bring up any emotions. I don’t want to do any of that for anybody. I just want to help equip everybody to deal with these areas of relationships. So, please hear my heart on this. I really believe we’re going to have a great day today. We’re going to talk about some Biblical stuff up front. Then, we’re going to get practical. Then, we’re going to get even more practical. And I believe that everybody will leave here with something in their life that they can walk out of here with to better themselves when their relationships are shaken.
Now, to say all of that that sounds good, but before we get there I want to do an exercise with you all. That’s not standing up and doing jumping jacks or anything like that. A mental exercise with everybody, and those also watching via the mobile app and the internet. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to imagine that we’re out in a big crowd of people, and we’ve got a stage. It’s a pretty good size stage. What I’ve done is brought up fifty people behind me on the stage, and I grab the microphone and I get everybody’s attention. And let’s assume this is out at first Friday. So, there’s some of us there, but the majority of people are not Grace people. They’re just people out there having fun enjoying life here in Lakewood Ranch.
I grab the microphone and I say, “Can I get everybody’s attention?”
And everybody turns around like, “Who’s this dummy on the microphone?”
Anyway, they look in and I go, “Here’s what I want to do. Let’s play a little game. I’ve got 30 to 50 people up here. I’m going to tell you some things about them and I want you to guess who are.”
And everybody goes, “Yeah.” Of course they really wouldn’t. Play along with me here. So, the go, “Yeah. Alright. Good.”
I’m going to get up there and say, “Here’s some things about this group of people. You tell me who they are. Here they are. These people are regular church goers. That’s who they are. In fact, almost every time the church door’s open, they’re there. Not only that, they’re really into small group Bible studies. I mean, these people really study the Bible. They’re the people that if you quote a Scripture they know where it’s at. They actually know the address. They’re a very tight knit community. They’re very tight knit. They believe in community. Believe in togetherness and all that. They’re virtuous in their conduct. They’re people of prayer, and they’re meticulous givers.”
I think if said, “Now, who is that?”
I think the would go, “They’re your church people, Chip. That’s who they are.” Or they would say, “They’re Christians.” Or something to that effect.
Maybe in your mind you’re thinking that Christians. Okay, this group I just defined for you and me, that I just talked about, come out of the first century. They’re called the Pharisees. Some of you are like, “Whoa, man.” People watching on the computer just shut the lid. Like, whoa. What is this guy doing here?
Okay, I’m going to be honest. I played a little bit of a game. I should have temple rather than church, okay? But other than that it’s pretty much the deal. And here’s the thing, how did this, right here, how did this interact with Jesus? Well, they didn’t like Him. You go, “Well, how could this not like Jesus? Really?” Yeah. They didn’t like Jesus to where they started to hate Him. So, we went from not liking to hate. You go, “How does this go there?” And then you go, “What else?” Well, they hated Him so much that they wanted to kill Him. And you go, “Wow. How did that happen? How did this get there? How did this become that? How did that happen?”
And if you go through your Bible, your New Testament, and you spend a little time in there you’ll realize there were some multifaceted things, but when it comes down to the central deal – in other words, is there a foundational element between this and Jesus and why they didn’t get alone. And the answer to that is yes. The answer to that is there is one really foundational level of things that separated this from Jesus. And you know what that was? It was relationships.
Jesus simply hung out with the wrong people. Constantly throughout the New Testament they’re saying, “Jesus you shouldn’t be eating with these people. Jesus, you should be hanging out with these people. Jesus, you should be touching these people.” Because what happened was this group of people said this, “Listen, if you want to have a relationship with me then you’re going to have to do some things to come in. You can come into our church, but you can’t really be a part of us until you check off certain things so you can be a part of us.”
And this group of people built scaffolding, or a wall around themselves, to where they could keep people out, because they felt like, “Hey, isn’t it our job to be Godly? Isn’t it our job to love God? Isn’t it our job to show people out there in the world the way we live and how holy we are, and how righteous we are, and to show them their sin, and to show them God’s judgment if they don’t live like us? So, they can’t be a part of us unless they check off some of those things.”
And here’s the sad part, what they built to protect themselves ended up imprisoning them. And I say that because, as a pastor, I can tell you all you have to do is look around our town. Look at our state. Look at our country, and we are fractured in our relationships. We have marriages that don’t work. We have broken relationships with moms and dads. We have broken relationships with children. We have broken relationships. We got Christians that are mad at each other, calling each other not Christians.
I have a professor friend that was called not a Christians last night and had to cancel out his Facebook stuff because of all the stuff going on. We argue about stuff. We got all these little checkmarks. You can’t be a Christians and do this. You can’t do this. What we do is we do relationships where we go, “If you can’t get your deal the way I want my deal then you can’t have any part to do with me, because that’s the way I’m going to do relationships.”
And Jesus came along and said that’s not the way relationships work. So, maybe our relationships are broken because maybe we need to do a refresher course on what relationships actually are. And so we’re going to do that here at the first part of the message so then we can look at what happens when they break. Because if we don’t know what they are, even if we try to deal with what happens when they break, if we don’t know how to get back into the right ones, if we go back into the wrong ones they’re going to break again.
So, Jesus comes onto the scene. I don’t know if you’ve been to Israel. I have. I’ve stood right there on the Sea of Galilee up on the hill where Jesus did the Sermon on the Mount, or at least where they feel like He did the Sermon on the Mount. And if you’re brand new here at church, you’ve never been here to church, most of you know the Sermon on the Mount. You’ve heard it. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are these. You know. You’ve heard those things. Jesus is sitting there in Galilee, which is about 80 miles from Jerusalem, and this is what He says. And it’s as radical back then as it is today for you and me.
Here’s what He says. He says, “If you’re offering your gift at the alter…”
Now, you have to understand something that’s not here. When we read the Bible, let’s be honest, we go, “Offer your gifts at the alter.” We think about an alter at a church or something. That’s not what Jesus is talking about. He’s talking about the alter in Jerusalem. He says if you’re offering your gift… And all of them are going, “Okay. I have to walk 80 miles to go there.”
He says if you’re there, you’ve walked 80 miles, maybe you’ve taken an animal, because you have to take an animal to do that sacrifice once a year. You have to carry that animal. Or if you buy one in Jerusalem it’s more money. So you have to save up to buy that animal if you don’t take it with you. However, it is it’s expensive and it’s a journey. You get there to Jerusalem. He says, “If you’re at the alter, you’ve stood in line, it’s your turn now to offer your sacrifice so that you and your family’s sins can be atoned for.”
He goes, “If you’re offering your gift at the alter, you’re right there, you’re there in that moment right now, and you remember that your brother has something against you… Not that you’re mad at somebody else. Somebody has something against you.” And He doesn’t qualify it. It doesn’t say that it’s true. He doesn’t say that it’s untrue. He just says if you’re there right there getting ready to offer your sacrifice and you remember in that moment that somebody has something against you… Well, we know what to do, right? You first got to het right with God.
Offer the animal, right? Get right with God. God first. I mean, it’s got to God first. It couldn’t be people first. I mean, why would it be people first? No way people could be that important. Get right with God, and then take an inventory and figure does a guy got something against, or the girl that’s got something against you. Is it real? If it’s not just say, “Bye Felicia,” or whatever. If it’s maybe true maybe you talk about it, or whatever. Maybe go grab a couple people and gossip a little bit, and then go figure it out. I mean, that’s what everybody would do. That’s the way it is. You’re there at the alter. You got to get right with God first. Somebody has something against you, what do you do?
Well, that’s not what Jesus says. He says, “Leave your gift there before the alter and go.”
You’re like, “Whoa.”
Can you imagine the scene? I mean, work with me here. Let’s say you got a lamb. That’s what you brought. Can you imagine you put the lamb down? It’s not like you’re going to look at the lamb and go, “Hey, Fido, could you sit for a minute here? Right here? If you could hangout, because I have to go three days back to Galilee to go hangout with my buddy and get it right. And then I’m going to come back for three days. So, in about a week if you could be hanging out right here life would be good.”
No. No. No. That things going to be gone. Are you going to give it to somebody? Well, they’re going to be gone. You don’t even know who anybody is. You’ve travelled 80 miles to get there. So, you’re going to have to go all the way back, lose your sacrifice, lose all of that. You’re going to have to pay for another one. He says, “If you’re there and you remember somebody has something against you, leave your gift there and go. Don’t even talk about God. Stop it. Go get right first.”
He says, “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
It’s like, “Whoa.” If you’re like going, “I’ve read this. How did I miss that one? I didn’t quite see that one.”
Listen, it’s just as radical to you and me today as it would have been to them back then. John, we all know John, John hung out with Jesus. He ate with Jesus. He was a disciple of Jesus. John says it this way in his epistle. He says, “If anyone…” – That’s pretty broad. Anyone. – “…anyone says, ‘I love God…’” – I’m in. I’m one of God’s people. I love God. I love God. – “…but hates his brother…” – And hate here is like an idiom. It’s to love less than fully love. Okay? So, if anyone says they love God, but they have a hatred or a less little bit of love for their brother than what they should have, what are they? Well, – “…they’re a liar.”
And you’re like, “Whoa. Man, that’s tough. Man, how would I do some of the stuff I do with people? How would I talk differently if this were true? How would I do?” Can you imagine if we really believed that we needed to go drop our gift at the alter, and go reconcile. We wouldn’t even have church services on Sunday. People would be going and traveling all over the country to go get right. See? We don’t believe this stuff, do we? Huh? See? This is tough.
You’re like, “Oh man, I should have stayed home and snuggled in the cold weather.”
Anyway, it says if you love God but hate your brother you’re a liar. “For he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen can’t love God whom he’s not seen.”
We’re like, “Wow. Man. So, man, this relationship stuff is tough. I mean, God really puts a priority on people. Man, maybe I ought to start thinking about all the people that I say bad things about.”
Can you imagine if God did that for you and me? Like, every time I messed up, maybe you all don’t. I got plenty of it, man. I mean, I could just go all day making dumb choices and bad decisions. Imagine every time I did that God was like, “Let me put this on Facebook about Bennett. Yeah.”
None of you all do that. I know it’s the 11:30 service, but what I’m saying is can you imagine if we did it?
Okay, well here’s the cool thing. Paul, listen to me, Paul writes a whole epistle about this. And look, I want to be respectful here. I want to respect you all very much, because I love everyone of you all. When we’re reading the Bible we normally read the Bible devotionally. Which means we read a chunk of it and go our way. Or we get a devotional book and it quotes a Scripture and we read whatever and we go about our day. And I want you to do that. I’d rather you be doing that then not doing that at all. Trust me. Do that. Do that. Do that.
But if I could push a little bit more than just that what I would say is that sometimes read these books in their entirety. From beginning to end. And then don’t go anywhere else, and read it again from beginning to end. And then read it again from beginning to end. And start realizing that these things flow all the way through. That they’re not all just a bunch of things thrown together in some mosaic that doesn’t work. They really have a flow.
In the epistle of Ephesians, Paul starts off in the epistle, and he says, “Listen,” he says, “You’ve been chosen and you’ve been adopted, and you’ve been moved out of the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. God has done all these things for you, and what He wants to do is, through the Church, He wants to fill all and all.”
Sort of like the old Adam thing where he says go and multiply and subdue. Go out and expand. He says that Jesus has done these things for the people that are in His Church so that they can go and expand. And he says in chapter two, he’s so committed to this thing that where it used to be there was Jews and there was Gentiles. Jesus has come and He’s torn down the wall of partition between both Jew and Gentile, and He’s made one new person. And that person is the Church. That’s who this is. It’s made and consisted of both Jew and Gentile, because what God’s going to do is not only fill all and all, because in chapter three He’s going to, through the Church, He’s going to show His manifold grace and wisdom to the principalities and powers. To the things that we can’t even see. And He’s going to do that because He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think according to the resurrection power that lives within us.
And He says that in chapter 4:1, he goes, “Because I’ve said all these things…” – Because this is all true. Because this is all theologically meaty, great stuff. – “…what I want you to do is walk this out in your life. I want you to live this out in your life. And you’re going to be able to do that because God has put apostles and prophets and pastors and teachers and evangelists in the Church so that they can equip you as saints so that all of us can come to the unity of faith and look like Jesus.”
And he says, “So, look like Him. Don’t back bite. Don’t envy, and don’t gossip. And don’t do all those things that grieve the Spirit of God. Don’t do that. Live in love.” Chapter five. “Live it out. Look like Jesus.”
And so, when you get together and you gather, you don’t gather to be drunk with wine. You gather to be filled with the Spirit of God, and you sing to each other in songs, and hymns, and spiritual songs, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
You go, “Whoa. Hold on, now. I come to church for myself, man. I come to get something for me. The Bennett buffet of Biblical wisdom. I came to get some of that stuff.”
No. No. No. We come to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
You’re like, “I ain’t submitting to nobody. I’m not honoring nobody. I’m not doing any of that stuff.”
That’s exactly what the Pharisees thought. And Jesus came and taught something different. He said, “We submit to one another. Why? Because we love Jesus. Why? Because we revere Christ. Why? Because we believe that He’s the Christ, the Son of God. Why? Because we believe He’s God come in the flesh. This is what we do. We submit. We honor. We love. We put people above us.
And then what he does is he takes what you would know, if you live in the first century. You wouldn’t know this maybe if you were who you are today, but you would know this if you were in the first century. He says, “Here’s the deal…”
God’s calling right now saying, “You better listen to this boy. He’s preaching some good word.” Okay, listen.
Here’s the deal. He says, “Listen, the household code,” is what they had in the first century, and it went like this. Because they had the Pax Romana. That was the Peace of Rome. In other words, Rome was going to keep everybody at peace, and they did it through control. They did it through military might. They did it through all those things. They said we’re going to be safe, we’re going to secure through all these things. He says, “So here’s the way it works. The man is in control. That’s who runs the house. The man. And if you’re a woman you’re property. And if you’re a kid you’re property. And if you’re a slave you’re property. The men rule it all.”
Paul comes along and says, “Okay, I’ve done this whole argument to get you to hear about what it looks like to be the Church, because we really want to do this thing. We really want to be the Church.” He goes, “We come together. We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. We honor people. We love people. We take care of people. We do all this stuff. This is how relationships go down, and this is how we mutually one to another.”
And then he gives a household code that they would have known if they were reading this epistle, but he turns it on its head. And he says, “Here’s the way it starts. Wives to your own husbands is to the Lord.”
I can’t tell you how many times I get in a counseling session and the man’s like, “When are we going to get to the submit thing? Huh? My wife she should submit.”
I’m like chill out, Charlie. It’s not even written to you. That’s not written to you. And let me tell you something. In Ephesians 5:22 the word submit is not in the original text. It’s not there. It’s in verse 21. It’s to everybody. Wives do it. Husbands do it. Children do it. Everybody mutually submits. Everybody mutually honors. Everybody loves.
And the way they do it is this. First of all, nobody would question the wives thing because wives had nothing to offer anyway in the first century. They were just considered property. He says, “Wives, what I want you to do is I want you to honor your husbands. I want you to love your husbands. I want you to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
So, if you’re a lady in here and you say, “Well, how am I supposed to live in a relationship.” Well, you’re supposed to love your husband just like you would the Lord.
And you’re like, “Yeah. But what if he doesn’t do me right?”
Again, going back, it’s not the checkmarks. It’s putting yourself out there. See, when we put ourselves out there by loving and submitting and serving it’s scary. It’s called faith. See, the other one we can control. Faith you can’t control. There were 11 disciples that stayed in the boat, because they thought the boat was safer. There was one that got out of the boat, and he was safer out in the wind and waves walking on the water with Jesus. Because even when he sank Jesus was there to pick him up. And often we stay in that boat, and we never see the miracles in our relationships because we’re not willing to submit and serve.
Now, Paul turns it on his heads. He says, “Husbands…” I love this when I get people in counseling. The guy will be like, “Let’s talk about submit. Let’s talk about kitchen.”
I’m like, “Could you like chill out, dude. Do you want to hear what the Bible says to you? Because that’s not written to you. That’s written to the wives. This is written to you. You’re to “love your wives and Christ loved the Church, and gave himself up for her.”
“Like, whoa. Could we back to the other verse about the wives?”
“No, Charlie, we’re going to stand right here on this one here, because submission doesn’t mean anything to loving her like Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her.”
That’s a tall order, but he’s flipping it upside down. Then he says, “Children…” That makes sense. He goes, “Obey your parents in the Lord, for that’s right.” But then he flips it and say, “But fathers need to submit, and honor, and love their children, because fathers, you can’t provoke your children to anger.” You can’t just treat them like whatever. You honestly have to submit and serve and love them, too, because that’s what it’s like to be a Christian in relationship.
He says, “Bond servants…” – This would be the slaves back in that day. For us we can make an analogy like an employee to an employer. But he says, – “Bond servants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling…” – That’s an idiom that means with respect. – “…with a sincere heart as you would Christ.”
And then he flips it and he says, “And masters you do the same to them.”
You fear and tremble. You treat them with respect, and stop threatening. Paul has redefined all relationships. He’s just said what the hierarchical structure should be is not. Everybody’s loving is loving one another. Everybody’s putting themselves under one another. Everybody’s putting themselves out. And, here’s the deal, that’s the way relationships work, because that’s the way God has ordained our relationships to work.
But it’s tough for us, because what we don’t want to do is put ourselves out there. We would rather build all these structures to protect ourselves, because, let’s be honest, we don’t want to get hurt. We’ve been hurt. Everybody’s been hurt. We don’t want to get hurt anymore. So, we put up all the walls and everything to protect us. To give us security, because we don’t want to get hurt.
Listen, you can’t be in a relationship and it be authentic and real and not get hurt. God, even in His relationship with you and me, got hurt coming to us to love you and me. And if we’re going to be followers of Jesus we have to do the same.
Now, what’s interesting is is what’s goes on here. As we read the Bible we forget what we’re reading and we go to the next thing. So, Paul’s laid this whole argument out. He’s talking about all this stuff. What it means to be the Church. And he’s surmised it by saying we need to be a Church that really has these great relationships, and engages in these relationships, because if we can get those relationships right in the Church, and in the household, then we will be able to take those relationships out into the world. And look like Jesus.
And he says, “So finally, you need to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Because you can’t do this relationship stuff on your own. I mean, you know that. Everybody in here knows that. There’s no way.
He says so what you need to do, you better be strong in the Lord, and you better be in the strength in His might. You better be getting some Jesus in you. And you better make sure that you put on the whole armor of God, because if you’re going to do this relationship thing you better be suited up. You’re going to have to stand against the schemes of the Devil.
The Devil’s schemes are to destroy relationships, and he’s doing a very good job. Because even us in the Church have adopted the cultural ideas of relationships by putting up all these things to protect us rather than serving and loving and putting ourselves out like Jesus has asked us to do.
And then he says this. “For we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood…” – That’s wives, husbands, children, sons, fathers, servants, and slaves.
It’s funny how these passages of Scriptures – I grew up in a church. They take Ephesians 6:10 and the following, and they go running after demons. Like demons are going to get us. No. It’s all together. It contextually goes together. Paul’s saying, “Man, you better make sure you’re suited up. You better make sure you go some Jesus in you or you’re not going to be living these relationships, because you’re not wrestling against the people that you think you’re wrestling against. You’re wrestling against authorities, and rulers, and cosmic powers over this present darkness, and against spiritual forces of evil in the Heavenly places.”
Now, it’s like we got this idea of what relationships are. What do we do when they’re broken? I mean, we sort of know what’s it’s supposed to look like. But what do we do when they’re broken? How do we act? What do we do? How do we take all this information about relationships and go, “What do we do with this?”
Normally we call this the take-homes. Normally I ask you to have a sheet of paper. This is a good time to get out a sheet of paper, your phone, your iPad, whatever it is. Take some notes. Write these down. These are some practical things of what we call the “What” in this particular series. Normally it’s called the take-homes. But what do we do when our relationships then are broken?
You sort of got an idea, and we go, “Yeah, no wonder they’re so broken, because we’re sort of doing them wrong. But they’re broken. So, what do I do to get them back to where they need to be?”
Well, the first one is: Following Jesus doesn’t always fit with what we naturally feel to be right.
And see, what we love to do is we love to go, “Well yeah, but this is what feels right to me, so can I find a passage of Scripture that fits what I feel to be right? That’s what I want to do.”
To give you an idea, I teach ethics every once in a while, and I tell my kids, I’m like, “Listen, the question is not ‘what would you do in this situation?’” And that’s the way we phrase it. What would you do if this happened? What would you do if this happened in your house? What would you do? How would you act? And we do that. That’s not even a Christian question. The Christian question is: What has God called us to do?
And it totally changes subject matter, because we’re trying to figure out how to get culture into our Christ. And Christ is absolutely opposite to our culture in so many ways. And so, we’ve got to understand that He doesn’t fit into what we normally feel is right.
I grew up in a family, I don’t know how you all did, but my dad, he’s get me as a kid, he’s like, “You’re a Bennett. You’re tough.”
I’m like, “He’s such a liar. I’m like a small dude. There ain’t nothing tough about me.”
But he’d tell me, “You’re a Bennett. You’re tough. If somebody hits you, you punch them in the face.”
I’m like, “Alright. That’s what I’m going to do. Punch them in the face.”
And he put me in karate. That’s why we learn a Greek word “hiya,” to do this. And then, I’m reading the Bible and Jesus says if somebody slaps you you don’t get to “hiya.”
You’re like, “But God, I took karate for that. The ‘hiya.’”
And He’s like, “No. No. You get to turn the other cheek.”
You’re like, “I don’t like that. That’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to love enemies. I don’t want to do that stuff. I don’t like that part where you say don’t resist the evildoer. I don’t like that part. I don’t like anything about that.”
But see, sometimes when our relationships are broken we need to understand He doesn’t fit with what we always think to be right. And this idea of serving, and loving, and honoring doesn’t feel right. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not right.
Secondly, ask the question here when you have had a relationship that’s broken. Where did you not serve and submit? Some of you are going, “I’m out, man. I’m out on this. I’m out right here.”
Listen, you can be out. I love you. You can be out, but the fact of the matter is let’s don’t play the game that this is not something that’s Biblical. Because all through the Bible it’s: Put others better than yourself. Treat others better than you. Serve others. Wash feet. Don’t grab for titles. Grab for towels and wash feet.
It’s all through the Bible. All of this stuff is all over the place. And when we’re in a broken relationship typically what we do is we go, “Well, if they’d do this. If they’d do that. If they’d do this. If they’d do that.”
I’ve counseled so many people. They come in and they’re like, “But they won’t do this, and she won’t do that. And he won’t do this.”
And I’m like, “Timeout. When are we going to start doing the Christian thing here? Because we’re doing the non-Christian thing right now, and how’s it working for you?”
“Well, it’s terrible. We hate each other.”
I’m like, “Great, well why don’t we try to do something different? Why don’t we maybe try to step out in faith? Why don’t we maybe try to follow Jesus? Where did I not serve God and submit?”
And here’s the thing, people come in and go, “Well Chip, I really believe God, and I really trust in Him. I did all that stuff, but He didn’t come through.”
Listen, I love you very much, but let me tell you something. You didn’t trust God, and you didn’t believe God, because what you did is you trust God and believed God for the outcome that you wanted. See how that works? That’s tough, isn’t it? It’s tough.
Thirdly, we must be willing to let others help us stitch up our wounds while they hold onto theirs.
And that’s the deal. None of us really want to get hurt, but everybody’s got scars. Everybody’s got wounds. Everybody’s broken at some level. Even pastors.
You go, “Well, you know, what do you mean?”
Yes. We all are. And what we don’t want to do is have anybody stitching up our wounds that might have other wounds, because it might hurt. It might not work. But the fact of the matter is when our relationships are busted we have to embrace this. Sometimes that’s just the way it is. It’s just the way it is.
Listen, when we started Grace here in Lakewood Ranch – I want to share something with you. Maybe it’ll help you out. Maybe it won’t. – I worked at a church many many years ago, and there was sin in the church. I mean, there’s nobody in the room that would not agree that there was sin going on the church. And I was the only staff member that wasn’t a family member. So, that was tough. When you’re the only guy that’s not a family member. And they brought me in and they were like, “Are you with us?”
And I was like, “I’m not against you, against you, but I’m not for this. The Bible is pretty clear that this is not right.”
And they were like, “But are you with us?”
And I got fired. And man, I was mad. I was like, “Man, God, I’m trying to live for Your Word, and do the right thing. And I got fired.”
Then the week before we opened up here at Lakewood Ranch. I was in my car, and God said you need to call that pastor and tell him that you’re sorry.
I’m like, “Come again? Can I read You Your Word, because Your Word says that what was going on was sin? And I was standing up for Your Word.”
He’s like, “Yeah, but you did say a lot of stuff about him.”
And I’m like, “Yeah, You’re probably right.”
And I had to take the humble pie, and call this guy that was many many years in the past and say I just want to let you know that I’m sorry for the ways things went down. I probably should have said things a little different on the way out. I’m sorry.
That was tough. But you know what? I truly believe this was all on my heart. We can debate it all day long. I believe that because I was willing to do that, I believe God says, “You know what, I got a guy here that maybe really wants to live this thing out.” As imperfect as I am. But God wants that in us. God wants us to do that. We have to be willing to do those things.
So, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I need relationship help right now. I’m lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.” Right?
Now, you’re not thinking that. I’m sorry. That’s some Kentucky coming out. I’m sorry. Take that out of the slide. I don’t know where that came from.
Anyway, what your thinking is, “Man, this is all good, but it’s a catastrophe right now. Can I get some help?”
Write these down. This is the most practical stuff I can give you. This is as honest as I can get. Here we go. Let’s do it.
Number one: In a relationship struggle, if that’s where you’re at right now, make your aim God’s glory.
Now listen, I want to put a caveat here. There’s such a thing that are called toxic relationships where there’s verbal abuse, and there’s hitting, and all that stuff. You got to get out of that stuff. I’m not talking to that. I’m talking to you all that got stuff that’s messed up, and jumbled up, and sort of broken, but you really want this thing to work. That’s who I’m talking to today, okay?
In a relationship struggle make your aim God’s glory. Because what we do is we tend to focus on, “Well, if I could just keep the peace.” That’s the focus. It’s like, “If I could just keep the peace. If I could just get everyone to like. I got a family issue. The family doesn’t like me. If I could just get my way. Or I just want them to do this. Or if only they did this…” And that becomes the focus of what we’re trying to do in our relationship.
The relationship needs to start off with, “God, this is a broken relationship, and what I want to do is I want Your glory in this relationship. I don’t want to take what I think should be happening in this relationship, because now I’m starting to do the checkmark thing and making people live up to the things that I want.”
I’m not going to do that. I’m going to say God, I’m stepping out of the boat right now. I’m going to say this is for Your glory. This is for Your honor. I’m going to quote 1 Corinthians 10:31. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I’m going to do this to the glory of God. I’m going to trust You to bring Your glory into this situation. And I don’t know what Your glory is going to look like, and I don’t know how that’s going to work. But I’m going to put You first and say God in this struggle I’m in right now I want Your glory to be first. And I’m going to trust you for that.
And listen to me, God is into the restoration business when we start to honor His Word. In fact, Abraham and Lot had such a bad relationship split it took 800 years to patch that up when Ruth and Boaz married.
So, it can’t be, “This is the way it’s got to be.”
It’s got to be, “God this is for Your glory.”
Secondly, we have to embrace God’s sovereignty. I mean, is He God? or is He not God?
Some people already put this on Facebook. Hey, make sure if you quote me you put my name. I’m just kidding. I’m just joking, okay? I’m just joking.
Somebody needs to hear this today. Listen, if God is in control then it’s not out of control. Let me say that again. If God is in control, then it – whatever your it is – is not out of control. God’s God, and at some level we’ve got to go, “God, this is all about Your glory. I’m not going to put my agenda in this relationship. I’m not going to put my wall up. I’m not going to put my criteria to it. I’m going to trust You for Your glory to do this in this relationship. And I’m going to embrace that You’re God and I’m not. I’m going to believe like Psalm 115:3. That, ‘My God is in the Heavens and He does whatever He pleases.’ I’m going to believe that. I’m going to believe that You’re that big of a God.”
Thirdly, lead with humility. Be humble. Realize that what people go through in their lives we may not know. We may not know exactly all the dynamics that are going on. And often times – this is the truth – the things that we don’t like in other people, that really grind us, are the things that we’re the most guilty of. Lead with some humility.
And lastly, focus on our responsibility. God, what can I do to help in this relationship? I’m going to put Your glory first. I’m going to trust Your sovereignty that You’re God. I’m going to trust Your Word. I’m going to truly lead with humility. And I’m going to focus on my responsibility.
I’m not going to be like the Pharisees. They tie up heavy burdens hard to bear. They lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. God, I’m going to take responsibility for this. I’m going to trust You.
And listen to me, some of you all have some really damaged relationships, and I know that. I’m just going to ask you, and give you permission: Step out of the boat. I know it’s tough. It’s scary. It’s challenging to step out of the boat and lay yourself.
“Man, that’s tough to serve and submit. That’s tough to honor and love. You don’t know what they’ve done to me.”
What if Jesus would have taken that position on you and me? He didn’t, and we’re called to be like Him.
Look, I can’t promise you anything. I’m not a guy that’s on T.V. telling you you have to do these things and everything’s going to pop out just right. What I’m going to tell you is is this. – I know this for a fact. – I know that when you honor God, and you honor God’s Word, He shows up. I don’t know how He shows up. I don’t know when He shows up, but I know He shows up.
And some of you all have some relationships that are broken right now. Step out. Trust God. Do those things, because I really believe God wants to put some relationships back together if we’ll just trust Him.
Let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the people of Grace. God, I thank You for each one of these fine men and women that You sent Your Son Jesus for. God, I know there’s people in this auditorium right now, there’s people listening via the internet and mobile app, that are in tough relationships.
God, I pray right now, in the name of Jesus, that You would give them the strength to suit up and put on the full armor of God, and to stand in Your strength and in Your might. And Lord, to step out and believe that by honoring and serving and reaching out that You can do the miracle.
And God, I pray that You would rebuke the Enemy that would come against them. And maybe as they try that a lot of bad things would happen up front to discourage them. God, I pray that You would give them the victory to step out and to make these things work, because, God, I believe that relationships matter more than anything else. They matter to You. They should matter to us.
So, God, I pray that as we leave here today that you would watch over us and protect us, lead, and guide us. I pray, God, that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again. Lord, help us to stay focused as we go into a new series. Help us, Lord, to think about people that we could bring that could benefit from hearing this. And I pray, God, that as we walk out of here today we would walk out of here differently. With a some more tools in our toolbox to help us when we’re shaken in our lives. To You be the glory. Lord, we love you and praise You. Bring us back safely to when we meet again. In Jesus name, and everybody said, Amen.
Give the Lord a big hand clap, and tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.