Living into Our Relational Design

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After a day off yesterday, we’re back at it. I hope you are willing to subject yourself, yet again, to the pruning shears of the Vine-grower. It’s not an easy task. In fact, before you read any further, you might want to pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for courage.


Today, I’d like to bring our attention to a branch that each of us has—a branch that likely needs a little trimming: the branch of independence.

Healthy independence has its place. For instance, when we grow up, we ought to be independent from our parents. If we are an apprentice to a mentor, we ought to gain enough experience to become independent of their tutelage. And so on.

But as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, and especially as American citizens, we tend to take independence to unhealthy extremes.

We are not meant to do everything on our own, nor should we take pride in the fact that we never rely on others. As I stressed in yesterday’s sermon (link), we are made in, through, and for relationship. That’s because we are made in the image of a relational God—a God who is irreducibly relational, three persons in one.

Like the Trinity, we are made for strong relational interdependence.

It’s no coincidence that the phrase “one another” occurs 100 times in the New Testament, with 59 of those occurrences being commands about how we ought to relate to one another. 59!! The assumption is that followers of Jesus will live into this original aspect of God’s design. Here’s a small sampling of those commands:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. — Romans 12:10
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices — Colossians 3:9
encourage one another and build one another up — 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Although “one another” is two words in English, it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-LAY-loan). Alternatively, this Greek word means reciprocally or mutually. Those two words reinforce the idea even further: God desires interdependence far and above independence.

If we allow Master Gardener to trim the branch of independence a little bit, then chances are that we will be more capable of living into God’s intended design for relationships.

TODAY’s ACTION: In what area is God calling you to be slightly less independent? In what way can you participate in mutuality, reciprocity, and one-anothering? If you need any ideas, browse this great infographic with all the “one another” verses—link.

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