How Close Are Your Friends?

Relationships can be tough. We’re sinful people living in a world with other sinful people. Add to this the fact that most of us are insanely busy. Because of this, it’s easy to remain on the surface level with others, failing to develop the deep, authentic, transparent relationships God desires for us. Today Cheri Swalwell urges us to go deeper.

Rules or Relationship by Cheri Swalwell

Ecclesiastes 4:10: “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” 

I have talked in the past about following a set of rules versus entering into a personal relationship with God. Today I’m going to talk about relationships with those around us. Sometimes I think it seems easier to follow a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” than to work on an authentic relationship. I know I’ve been guilty of the same thing, but I believe that we miss out on so much when we take the easy way…both in our relationship with God and with others.

Having an authentic relationship means being vulnerable and taking the chance that you could get hurt. Being genuine with others sets you up for rejection…ridicule…being judged. Taking a chance on a friendship means that it might not be reciprocated in the same way…on the same level…with the same feelings.

It also means you could stumble into a relationship where your needs and those of the other person are met on a deeper level…with deeper understanding…with genuine empathy and support, finding a true friend who is willing to walk with you throughout the numerous trials and joys that you will experience on your life journey.

I feel that God calls us to be as authentic as possible with those around us. Or at least to give it a chance. Does that mean that all your relationships have to strive to hit that deep intimate level? No…I don’t think that’s very realistic. It’s not feasible to maintain the same level of intimacy with someone you see three times a year as you do in your relationship with your spouse (or at least I hope so).

That type of authenticity and level of relationship isn’t possible with everyone, or even healthy with everyone. However, I believe strongly that if we are seeking God’s will in all areas of our lives, then He will reveal (and provide the opportunities) which relationships He wants us to dig a little deeper with and which ones we will practice authenticity to a lesser degree with.

When God is in control of all areas of our life, then even though we can veer off course at times (we are, after all human), He will always provide a way for us to get back on track. Then, the relationships He provides will be beneficial not only to us but should spill over into our interactions at our workplace, our church, and in the community.

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Cheri Swalwell describes herself as a Christ follower first and foremost, wife, mother, and avid reader. She has been blessed to guest blog on a variety of guest blogs including Christiandevotions.us as well as Crosswalk.com/family. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her blog: http://journeysfromtheheartofawifeandmother.wordpress.com or like her at Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell/220762911373306.

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I’ve heard it said, whatever’s not growing is beginning to die. Pause to consider your relationships in light of that sentence. What are some things you believe hold us back from authentic community, and how can we move past that? Why do you think God desires for us to be in close relationships with others?

Join us at <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/pages/Living-by-Grace/208718449189065″>Living by Grace</a> as we talk about developing and maintaining close relationships.

Authentic Living

Understanding God knows everything about me–my dreams, my thoughts, my fears, my deepest secrets, and darkest sins, yet loves me anyway, is freeing. It frees me to live an authentic life. No hiding. No pretending. Just me and God, doing the best I can each day to follow His leading. Do I make mistakes? Wow, too many. But that’s the beauty of grace–a mistake is an opportunity for grace, when handled correctly.

We can either run from God, like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden (which didn’t turn out to well, btw) or we can run to God in honest repentance.

Honest living–truly honest living, is hard. We want to present an image of goodness. We want to hide our bad traits–the selfish thoughts that fight for dominance in a given day, the times when our mouth flies and our actions resemble more like gut-punches than acts of love. But God sees it all–the good and the bad. And He’s not surprised or shocked. He remembers who we are–fallen man desperately in need of redemption!

So what does He do? He doesn’t ignore our sin or minimize it. He’s too honest for that. But He doesn’t crush us, either. He’s much too loving for that. Instead, He made a way, through Jesus Christ, to fulfill His justice–the necessary consequence for man’s rebellion against a Holy God, while demonstrating the amazing depths of His grace. Jesus’ death and resurrection allows the Christian to live a totally authentic live.

Psalm 32:2 “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty.”

Knowing we are loved, forgiven, and accepted encourages us to remove the barricades of self-protection.

But unfortunately, we live in a fallen world with sinful man. Which means, humans are going to misunderstand and misjudge us. So how do we continue to live authentically when surrounded by judgmental, critical man?

We keep our eyes on our Redeemer, the only one worth pleasing.

I have a phrase I often repeat whenever I’m in an uncomfortable situation or around people with a critical spirit. I say, “Just you and me, God. Just you and Me.”

2 Timothy 2:4 says, No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer.God is my commanding officer. God is the only One who truly knows me–all of me. And He is the only one I must please. Knowing this allows me to rise above the opinions of man, living authentically, with complete honesty, in God’s grace.

What about you? How does it feel understanding God knows you intimately, and loves you deeply?

And are you living honestly? According to 1 John 1:8, If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. (NLT)

Authentic living, then, begins with honest evaluation. Honest, heart-searching evaluation leads us to genuine repentance, and genuine repentance leads to freedom and authentic living.

When we confess our sins and turn from them, God forgives us of our sins and cleanses us of all unrighteousness. He doesn’t offer us a bandage to hide our nasty filth. Instead, He washes us clean, reaching to the deepest recesses of our heart, so we can hold our head high and say, “I’m forgiven! I’m accepted! I’m loved by the King.”

What about you? Are you living authentically?