Dr. Jackie Minor
Love and Relationship
My husband and I have been married 37 years. I can honestly say I love him more today than I did in our early years. It hasn’t all been pretty. We have had our “seasons” just like everyone else, but for the most part our relationship has been uncomplicated. I have never once doubted his love for me. Being loved unconditionally makes me better, and because of this, it is easy to love him back. Love is the glue that has held us together through conflict, loss, uncertainty, and confusion.
Just like a good marriage, knowing Jesus is about love and relationship.
While we know Jesus loves us and desires to be in a relationship with us, we must recognize that it is a two-way street. Relationships don’t just happen. I was a young adult before I began to grasp what it meant to grow in my relationship with Christ. I grew up in a loving Christian home. Being part of a local church was all I knew. For that I am forever grateful. Like many, however, being a Christian often felt like following (and breaking) rules. Being a Christian was my duty. It was the right thing to do so I would appear good enough in the eyes of others.
Don’t get me wrong. I did not feel oppressed. This is just how my immature mind thought it was supposed to be. Somewhere along the way (and I don’t know how), I missed the message of what it meant to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. God’s plan was not for me to be a rule follower, although obedience is necessary. God’s plan was about love and relationship.
Easter has a way of taking me back to the basics. The basics—Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection—are the starting point for a relationship unlike any other. Having asked Jesus into my heart at a young age, I knew and understood the basics. However, I didn’t understand how to move that knowledge from my head to my heart. I’m still learning and am thankful every day for God’s grace and mercy during my journey.
By definition a relationship implies more than one person. For a long time, my relationship with Christ was one-sided. He was there, waiting; I was busy, living. He wanted to be a part of every aspect of my life. I was selective, allowing Him access to the parts of my life that were comfortable. Gradually that changed, and by the grace of God it keeps changing. The issue wasn’t Him; it was me. Easter is the perfect time to go back to the basics and remember what this relationship is all about.
This relationship is about love.
Jesus told his disciples in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus had a choice. We have all read how He calmed the sea, healed the sick, fed the multitudes, and raised the dead. However, his love for us and his obedience to the Father were far greater than His human desire for self-preservation. I will never fully grasp the love He has for you and me, especially since we are all so undeserving. His love is unconditional, and it makes me love Him even more.
God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8
This relationship is about forgiveness.
Can you imagine being in a relationship where someone would say, “I know you are going to betray and disappoint me, but just know right now that no matter what happens, you are forgiven.” This is why Jesus died. For reasons beyond our comprehension, we are forgiven for our failures yesterday, today, and tomorrow—once and for all! God promised, because of Jesus, “I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12). Did you catch that? Never again.
Knowing I am forgiven makes me want to be my best in this relationship. I don’t want to grieve the very one who accepts me—faults and all.
This relationship is about intercession.
In layman’s terms, Jesus goes to bat for us! He stands in the gap. He prays for us. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane when the cross was near, Jesus prayed for you and me. Take a moment and listen to His voice as you read the words below.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 15:20-21
Being in a relationship with Jesus means we have someone who understands, someone who wants our best, and someone who will do whatever it takes to makes us one with the Father.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Romans 8:26
This relationship is about blessings.
Unlike many relationships, a relationship with Jesus is full of blessings. We don’t have to worry about being manipulated, disappointed, or mislead by Him. We can trust that He always wants what is best for us. Jesus made that promise when He stated, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10-11
This doesn’t mean everything will be easy. When our relationship with Jesus is strong, blessing takes on a whole new meaning. In His first major teaching gig, Jesus outlined what it meant to be truly blessed. I would encourage you to take a moment this week and read Matthew 5:1-11. A great inheritance awaits those who seek Him.
Remember—relationships are a two-way street. Jesus is always all in. Are we? When we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, we have entered into a relationship with Him, but we have to engage with Him to reap the benefits. Jesus told us how when He said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously...” (Matthew 6:33). We experience God’s blessings when we make our relationship with Him our first priority.
Because of Jesus, we can experience love, forgiveness, intercession, blessings, and so much more! Those of you who have been married a long time can attest to this reality—we become more like our spouses over time. You may even be like me and my husband; we often finish each other’s sentences! The same is true in our relationship with Christ. As the relationship grows, we become more like Him.
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
It is all because of Jesus. He came, He lived, He died, and He rose again. Why? Love and relationship.
NOTE: If you are unsure of your relationship with Christ, don’t let another day go by before you accept the gift of Jesus. Click one of the links below to help you take this next step so you to can experience the abundant life!