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The Connection We Crave

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Is God your central relationship, or are you looking for others to fill needs only He can meet? Where might you be expecting more from others than they were designed to offer?

“… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV)

A few years ago, I went home to see my parents for the weekend and got together with some friends from my childhood days. Nearly every one of my close friends from junior high and high school still lives in the same community where we grew up. When I go back to visit, it’s like rewinding to myself at age 17.

After three or four hours of sitting around the table, eating, laughing, commiserating and reliving a hundred hilarious memories, we started vision-casting about the retirement house on the beach we will one day share. We were joking (kind of), but the idea of deep-down communal living made my heart sing. There is just something about the vision of dear friends cooking together and sharing the daily mundane that sounds pretty perfect to me. Why?

Because even if a house full of friends isn’t your dream come true, you were built by God for deep relationships.

In fact, God existed in relationship with Himself before any of us were here. It’s called the Trinity. God is one, and God is three. For all eternity, God has existed in relationship — as Father, Spirit and Son (Jesus).

Scripture says the Son exists to glorify the Father, and the Father exists to glorify the Son. It says the Spirit exists to glorify them both. What that means is they help each other, promote each other, serve each other and love each other. What’s more, this exchange has been going on for all eternity.

It means our God has been relational forever. It means He created us out of relationship for relationship — and not a relationship that is surface level or self-seeking. No, the relationship He has in mind for us is sacrificial, intimate, moment-by-moment connection.

We were made in the image of God, who is relationship. This means our longing for healthy, mutually submissive, supportive, interdependent relationships isn’t simply us craving something good for us, like vegetables or vitamins. We are craving the fundamental reason we were created. We weren’t just built for community; we were built because of it.

But here is where we go wrong. We look to people to complete and fill what only God is meant to fill. This is the primary reason we can all be so unhappy with each other. We have put our hope in imperfect people. But that hope can successfully be answered only in God Himself. Eternity is set in our hearts, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, which means only a relationship with an eternal God can fill our hearts.

Consider what you’re aiming your hope toward. Who is in the center of your affections? Who is in the center of your identity? We all have a choice.

If God is in the center of our relational circle, we will be fulfilled, and out of that fulfillment we can bless others. But if people are in the center of our relational circle, we end up pulling on others to meet needs that they can’t ever fully meet.

Jesus said it clearest. When asked to name the greatest commandment, He said all the commandments could be boiled down to this: “… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

When you have God in the right place, at the center of your affections, you will more likely get people right. Relationship with God comes first, but that relationship is meant to send us into loving others.

This all matters so much because …

We make each other better. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

We remind each other of God and His plans for us. “… that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:12, NIV)

We fight for each other not to be distracted by sin.“ But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13, ESV)

We need each other to live out the purposes of God. “ … each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts …” (Romans 12:5-6a, NIV)

If the God of the universe exists in community, we also need a collective belonging because God built us for it.

God, thank You for modeling how we are to live in community with others and for the gift of people — even when relationships are hard. Will You help me personally find deep community? Help me make friends and keep them as I live out my commitment to You, Your Church and Your plans for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

OUR FAVORITE THINGS

If you’re ready to find your people and start living in deep, intentional community, grab a copy of Jennie Allen’s new book, Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World.

ENGAGE

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Find Your People by Jennie Allen. To celebrate this book, Jennie’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, March 14, 2022.}

FOR DEEPER STUDY

Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (ESV)

Is God your central relationship, or are you looking for others to fill needs only He can meet? Where might you be expecting more from others than they were designed to offer?

© 2022 by Jennie Allen. All rights reserved.

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