Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp have written a helpful book entitled Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. In one of their chapters, they ask the question, “Why bother?” Of course, they are asking, “Why bother with relationships at all in light of how they are often painful and troubling?” Lane and Tripp argue strongly, and biblically, that instead of calling for a détente on all relationships, we should see them from this perspective:
“God wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we would see our need for a relationship with him as well as with others. Every painful thing we experience in relationships is meant to remind us of our need for him. And every good thing we experience is meant to be a metaphor of what we can only find in him.”
Not only do we have to deal regularly with our own sinful attitudes and tendencies, which makes life hard, but we have to work through painful relationships in the course of living our life as a follower of Christ.
God’s plan is not to avoid problems, but to work through them by his grace and for his glory. The relationships in a local church become the training ground for all believers to learn to love as Christ loves us (Ephesians 4:31,32). We are prone to speak in generalities about loving others. We prefer to love people from afar where they can’t mess up our comforts and preferences. Truth be known, the following describes us well,
“To dwell above with the saints we love, Oh that will be glory; But to dwell below with the saints we know, Well, that is another story!“(more…)