(Did you read Gospel-Centered Relationships: A Reflection of Eden?)
Again, living in true community together magnifies our need for a Savior. The beauty of the gospel is that it not only restores our relationship with our creator God but it restores our relationships with one another as well.
In John 13:34-46, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Now that the grave is empty and Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, the way that the world will know us as a disciple of Christ is through our love for each other.
In light of the gospel, what does this kind of love look like? Paul Tripp, in his book called What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, lays out what love looks like in a marriage. Since marriage was Tripp’s focus, I have modified them to hit home for us as we talk about Gospel-Centered Relationships:
- Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of one another without impatience or anger.
- Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
- Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
- Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
- Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
- Love means being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
- Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
- Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
- Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
- Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a community, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
- Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
- Love is recognizing the high value of trust in a gospel-centered relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
- Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack another’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
- Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt another into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
- Love is being unwilling to ask another to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
- Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a community.
- Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your community.
- Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat one another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
- Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of the relationship without asking anything in return or using your sacrifices to place another in your debt.
- Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your community, hurt your relationship, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
- Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
- Love is daily admitting to yourself, one another, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
- Love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view.
The gospel is the core of living in community together. It brings sinful people into the family of God, it brings sinful people with all of their baggage into a redemptive community, it brings restoration and hope, it brings a true understanding and magnification of our sin, and it brings true fellowship and true purpose and true meaning to life.
A Gospel-Centered Relationship loves the way that Christ loves us.
This kind of love is absolutely radical. Even a born-again believers, this is almost too much to ask as it would require a total change in how we view others (especially those messy others) in light of the Gospel. I know that I have been bruised and abused in relationships and I have been the bruiser and abuser in other relationships, but with a changed heart, Gospel lenses, and a life empowered by the Holy Spirit, I am and we are called as His Bride to be a living picture of the power and beauty of Christ's accomplished work.
Messy? Oh yes! Worth it? Absolutely!