Monday, February 18, 2019

Relationship, pt. 2

Part 1

Happiness isn't the goal in life and relationships don't guarantee happiness.  I'm not saying that relationships aren't important.  One can argue, and I said this in part one, that we are created by God for relationship -- first with Him and then with one another.  We should explore what scripture says about relationship to learn what God wants with it.

God said that it was not good that man should be alone, but relationship is also fraught with possible pitfalls.  All relationship starts with God.  God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God commanded that.  That was God's relationship with Adam and Eve.  They didn't obey that command and we know that his and her relationship with each other influenced that.  Later Jesus said in Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."  The relationship with God must supersede all other relationship.

The English word "relationship" isn't in the Bible.  "Fellowship" is the biblical term, which is helpful here.  Fellowship is not about "getting along."  Most people do fine in relationships when they get approval and acceptance.  Ephesians 5:11 says, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  If you walk in the light as God is in the light (cf. 1 John 1:7), you don't have fellowship with darkness.  I have seen relationship become the operative word so that fellowship continues with darkness.  Someone wants to be "happy," so he continues a relationship with darkness.

The Greek word translated "fellowship" sometimes is translated "communion."  Paul asks in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "what communion hath light with darkness?"  The assumed answer is "none."  Actual fellowship isn't happening for light with darkness.  Light and darkness are mutually exclusive.  Only light has fellowship (communion).

Regarding happiness, what Jordan Peterson said in a recent interview represents why he has been so wildly popular since the recent broad discovery of him:
It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable. It’s not something to aim at – because it’s not an aim. And if happiness is the purpose of life, what happens when you’re unhappy? Then you’re a failure. And perhaps a suicidal failure. Happiness is like cotton candy. It’s just not going to do the job.
In his book, 12 Rules for Life, he writes this:
To treat yourself as if you were someone you were responsible for helping is, instead, to consider what would be truly good for you.  This is not "what you want."  It is also not "what would make you happy."  Every time you give a child something sweet, you make that child happy.  That does not mean that you should do nothing for children except feed them candy.  "Happy" is by no means synonymous with "good."  You must get children to brush their teeth.  They must put on their snowsuits when they go outside in the cold, even though they might object strenuously.  You must help a child become a virtuous, responsible, awake, being capable of full reciprocity -- able to take care of himself and others, and to thrive while doing so.  Why would think it acceptable to do anything less for yourself?
People say relationship is most important to happiness, but parents who are living with children score low on happiness.  Raising children decreases the happiness of parents.  Americans are having fewer children.   Polls show people are less happy with marriage and less are getting married.  Biblical marriage and parenting require unhappiness.  A child isn't going to be happy when his parents don't like what he did.  Christ loves the church by sanctifying and cleansing it (Eph 5:25-26).   That's an example of the husband and wife relationship, which very often isn't happy.

Ephesians 6:1 commands, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right," not "for this will make you happy."  Happiness is a byproduct, but it isn't a goal, and it's only a byproduct for people with the right goal.  If the goal is obedience, and you're obedient, then you'll be happy, like Jesus said in John 13:17, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

In Cain's relationship with God, he wasn't happy when God disrespected his offering.  He "was very wroth, and his countenance fell" (Genesis 4:5).  He wasn't getting what he wanted and rather than adapt to what God said, He resented what God said and out of resentment, killed his brother.

The instinct toward relationship is good.  Relationship exists eternally in the Godhead.  God created man in His image.  God wants relationship between men like He has in the Godhead.  The Bible explains very clearly what that relationship is.

To Be Continued

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