I recently saw a title that said, “Take the ‘I’ out of your relationship.” The idea, I suppose, was that we should not be in a relationship for what we can get, but for what we can give. Our thoughts should be about the other person, rather than ourselves.
Well, that’s nice. Not very realistic, but nice. In fact, it isn’t even right, no matter how nice it is.
You see, there is no relationship without the “I.” It might be service or duty or responsibility, but it isn’t relationship. Relationship is shared.
Over the years I have talked and written a great deal about our relationship with Jesus. I believe that our only right connection with Him is in relationship. There are people who think of Jesus as their Master (which He is) and they believe they have a life of duty and obedience toward Him, but not a relationship with Him. Some people think of Him as their Judge (which He is) and believe they have to walk carefully in His presence so they do nothing to offend Him. Some think of Him as Creator (which He is) and believe He is too busy or too far away for a real relationship. I want people to think of Jesus as their friend, an intimate and loving Friend who walks with them and talks with them in personal relationship.
But I often get questions from people who almost cannot believe such a relationship is possible. They say, “I was never taught that Jesus wanted a relationship with me. My life was too full of evil and confusion for Him.” It wasn’t that they doubted God’s love. It was that they doubted God’s love for them. I heard a pastor say once, “I teach people that God loves them, but I have never really believed that He loves me.”
This is the result of telling believers that they are still sinners, still unworthy of God’s love. The message that we must continually reject our “selves” is a message that robs us of the ability to live in relationship. If a young woman is told that marriage is about denying her self and focusing only on the husband, she will never really enter into a relationship she can enjoy. If our relationship with God is all about how we must deny our selves or even put our selves to death, then we will never know the joy of salvation and the peace of divine friendship.
Let’s face it: I must be a part of any relationship that includes love or satisfaction or joy. And listen, Jesus wants me in that relationship with Him.