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"The second [commandment] is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Mark 12:31)
Relationships? Isn't that something they talk about on soap operas and sitcoms?
The word relationship is all over the place these days. When you're flipping channels, you hear it at least three times a minute, on everything from talk shows to deodorant commercials. If you accidentally eavesdrop on one of your mom's phone conversations, relationships will come up at least once, whether she's talking about your dad, you, or the family dog. And if you're looking for something on the magazine table to save you from boredom at the dentist's office, just about every cover is going to beckon you with something about "relationships" featured inside-"How to Communicate with Your Kids," "How to Relate to Your Doctor," "How to Talk to Your Houseplants."
But even though that word-relationships-is everywhere, you might dismiss it whenever you see and hear it, because it sounds like some deep "thing" reserved for the adult world. Don't only grown-ups have relationships?
Okay, answer your own question. Do you:
get your schooling strictly through a computer program-no teacher, no fellow students?
spend all your free time completely by yourself?
refuse to pray or read the Bible?
If you answered no to any of those questions, here's a news flash for you: You have relationships!
The concept isn't all that sophisticated. Your relationships are simply what happens between you and the other significant people in your life. You have relationships with the following people-and probably more:
your parents or your legal guardians or maybe both
your siblings (your brothers and sisters)
any other relatives you hang with often
any other adults who are important to you-from your gymnastics coach to the driver who calls you "Blondie" every morning when you get on the bus
Your life is loaded with relationships. Unless you're quarantined, you can barely go for five minutes of your awake life without relating to somebody. In fact, you spend less time alone now than you ever will again after you get your driver's license!
Even when you are alone, you always have two other relationships going on:
the one with yourself
the one with God
You couldn't get away from relationships if you wanted to-and why would you want to? Relationships among people are, after all, a God-thing.
HOW IS THIS A God Thing?
Erase all the relationships from the Bible, and what do you have? Uh, the Garden of Eden ... before Adam and Eve ... and, uh ... that's about it.
The Bible is loaded with important relationships that God created:
God made Eve for Adam because "for Adam no suitable helper was found." (Genesis 2: 20)
When God instructed Noah on building the ark, he told him to make rooms in it for his wife and his sons and his sons' wives. (Genesis 6:9-21)
When God told Abram to leave his country, Abram didn't go alone; he took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him. (Genesis 12:1-5)
When Isaac's wife, Rebekah, couldn't have any children, God was the one who made it possible for her to have a baby. (Genesis 25:21)
That's only part of the first book of the Old Testament. When you get to the New Testament, Jesus talks almost nonstop about relationships.
"I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment." (Matthew 5:22)
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you." (Matthew 18:15)
"Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31) "If [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:4)
"Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12)
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
The Gospels are like a self-help book about relationships written by God. Jesus covers it all-friends, enemies, parents, sisters and brothers-even your relationship with God and with yourself. Being a Christian is all about relationships, and it isn't too early in your life to make sure yours are in good shape.
What Happens If Your Relationships AREN'T Wonderful?
If your relationships with other people and with yourself and with God aren't so good, life can be miserable. We've all been there, so consider how you might answer these questions:
Do you remember a time when you had a fight with your brother or sister? ("Do I remember a time? Do I have to pick just one? How about the one we had ten minutes ago?")
Can you recall disagreeing with your parents about something? ("Only one something? How about practically everything!")
Excerpted from The Buddy Book by Nancy Rue Copyright © 2001 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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