Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's all about Relationships; part 1

Missio Lux is learning a new way to live.
We have been impacted by Jesus' words in John 15 where he speaks about the rhythm between abiding and bearing fruit.
Some more regular words say the same thing: rest and work, relationship and adventure, downtime and pushtime!

I am anxious to discover how living this rhythm intentionally will affect us.
At the core of it is a call to relationship.
Jesus wants us to spend time with him in relationship.
He knows that as we do that we will be built up, loved well and given new energy to love the people around us.

One of the most important relationships we have is our marriage.
Last night the girls and I gathered around the television to hear "John and Kate's announcement." I felt so sad when they said that they were separating, and on a path towards divorce. The words "I need to do what's best for me" still echo through my ears.

I loved the show in the early days. Watching John and Kate's delight in parenting their 8 children was so much fun. But, eventually I saw the pattern begin to take shape that so many of our marriages fall into: control/passivity/control/passivity.

This is the challenge of marriage; it comes out of the fall.

Adam was passive when he stood by and watched Eve eat the apple. He didn't do anything to stop her; which was an abdication of his rule over the garden. Eve, on the other hand, was quick to bite when the serpent challenged her thinking on "who was really in control." He lied to her, making her believe that God was holding out on her--that he held all the control and it wasn't for her good.

So, the curses were given. Men will struggle to succeed in their work and in relationship through their lives. Women will struggle to trust God and their husbands--so we do what seems right: seek to control our situations. The only thing about it is when we seek to control, we push our husbands into passivity, which only makes things feel more out of control.

Or, maybe it is the passivity of the men which causes the women to step up and try to control. It doesn't matter which comes first, the outcome is always the same: misery.

This is what I increasingly saw happening in John and Kate last year. Passivity from John, control from Kate. As the pressure built, their patterns became more and more entrenched, until their marriage blew apart all together.

The Bible has great wisdom in it. Jesus knew this pattern of marriage relationship and he showed us how to counter it and live into the new life of grace. It involves two key concepts: one for men and one for women.

Ephesians 5 tells men to love their wives and tells women to respect their husbands.

Why is this? Because men have a hard time loving their wives, staying present spiritually, emotionally and physcially--it's much easier to focus on the challenge of making a living.

Women have a hard time respecting their husbands; trusting that both God and men have their best interests at heart.

The Gospel is both simple and hard. The concept of love and respect is simple. But, it is oh, so very so hard to live it out.

It takes support.
It takes us caring about the people in our midst and asking the hard questions: "Did you treat your husband with respect this week?" "Did you treat your wife with love, caring for her and nurturing her heart this week?"

As we continue to live into our Missio Communities, we are structured to be able to ask those questions and offer our support. We are able to hold one another accountable for living it out. We can even confess when we are far from love and respect.

I have to believe that things could be different for John and Kate if they had that level of support. They could have stopped the trainwreck long ago, before it got to this point.

It's all about relationship, and as we take time to be with Jesus and rest, we get clarity on how we live into grace, rather than the curse from which he died to set us free. We can learn to walk in the new way of love and respect and in the process, model a lifestyle that others want to live out too.

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