June 18, 2010

Elephants in Our Midst series: Part 3 Ungodly Relationships

We are in the middle of a series discussing three elephants that are wreaking havoc in our midst as Christians. Elephants are enormous creatures that, if we try to ignore them as they trundle around amongst us, would end up seriously harming us or killing us. Over the last couple days, I talked about media and entertainment that is counter to the work of God through Christ in our lives. I talked about how God calls us to love Him with everything we are, not just a little bit. I also talked about what God expects from us behaviorally and we looked at some of the excuses that we give God to justify doing what we want. We finished by looking in God's Word to see that God already knows the excuses we are going to offer and He doesn't accept them.

Christians are not supposed to blend in and look like the rest of the world.

Today, I am going to talk about the elephant of ungodly relationships. The shameful part of ungodly relationships is similar to our last elephant in that usually it is an elephant that many people recognize, but they don't say anything about it. Most elephants that take the form of ungodly relationships aren't secret things that other people don't recognize. Usually, people can identify ungodly relationships through the amount and type of touching that goes on, the way that people interact with each other and the emotional impact of their arguments on one another. To put it simply, people who are not married and who are supposed to be pure physically, spiritually, and emotionally, should not act like people who have been married, shared in a God honoring sexual relationship, and submitted to each other emotionally and mentally.

The elephants of ungodly relationships aren't always simply premarital impurity. Ungodly relationships can look like many things:
Abusive dating relationships
Relationships that degrade one person or groups of people to make themselves feel good.
Relationships that foster unrighteous behavior.
Dating relationships that involve emotional and physical behavior reserved for marriage.
Dating relationships that involve male and female submission and ownership ideas that are reserved for marriage. Ie. Dating is not the moral equivalent of marriage, no matter the duration.

All of these situations have to do with man perverting relationships in ways that satisfy their own desires, and they deny the truth that God actually does have a clear standard for relationships, especially for Christians. Are ungodly relationships one of the elephants in your midst right now?

Look at Romans 12:9-11.
We already looked at v. 9. Today we'll look at vv. 10-11. We're going to start with the last part of 11 because we are going to come back to that in our last elephant discussion. The part we are looking at right now says, "Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

The first big part of getting rid of the ungodly relationship elephant has to do with honor.
We have to remember that God created each person in His Image regardless whether or not they are a Christian. Every one is made in God's Image. Our relationships need to begin and end with the honor of that Image. Jesus said that to love God and love others as you love yourself is the sum of the law. Do you honor God by loving Him and those who bear His Image?

The early Christians had a real hard time with this. The first Christians were divided into two groups: Jews and Gentiles (the rest of us who aren't Jewish). Jewish Christians didn't like gentile Christians all the time. Gentile Christians didn't like Jewish Christians all the time. Gentiles did gross things, they were dirty, they thought differently about life and the world, and other people. Jews were stuck up, wierd, and their life experience was really limited. Problem was that they didn't honor each other even as Christians.

Paul wrote this to the Phillipians 2:1-4,
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Is "honor" at the center of your relationships?

Tomorrow, we will finish looking at what the world has to say about it, and what our Lord says about it.

With you for His glory