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Tough to Love

• Greg Boyd

Learning how to love the people in our life that we find challenging to deal with is often very difficult. This week in Heart Smart we look at some biblical examples and instructions on how to do love our enemies in the same way we love our friends.

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In week five of Heart Smart we discuss the difficult relationships in our lives. We all have people in our lives we find challenging to relate to. As Kingdom people, in all relationships we should be asking ourselves this question: “How can I best manifest the love of God to this person?” It is important for us to remember that all our life comes from Christ and this should be reflected in our difficult relationships as well. Kingdom people bring to relationships the overflowing of God’s love, rather than those of the world who do so out of selfish desires from a place of emptiness. This means we should have the other person’s well being in mind and not our own.

Another tool we can use in relating with difficult people is the act of examining ourselves. It is not our job to judge others, but we are called to look at our behaviors and seek to follow Christ during these times. We often only think of ourselves when we take the world into account. The problem with this individualistic point of view is that when we come into relationship with one another we are actually creating a whole other reality that we must take into account. Often in the Bible we find that God speaks to multiple people as though they were one. Therefore in our own relationships we must account for the other with as much weight as we do ourselves and see things from their perspective.

It is also important to set boundaries in relationships. We set boundaries, not simply for the benefit of ourselves, but for the benefit of the other. In all these things remember that it is not what we do when we are handing out with friends that matters, but what we do when we are hanging out with enemies which is truly capable of shining the light of Christ to others.

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Topics: Grace, Humility, Relationships

Sermon Series: Heart Smart

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Focus Scripture:

  • Philippians 2:3-5

    3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

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5 thoughts on “Tough to Love

  1. Bonnie says:

    I just so appreciate the constant reminder to get all of our life from Jesus Christ. Relationships are so much richer when we do! Thank you WHC for the practical and nitty- gritty teachings of this series! It makes me eager to get out there and do healthy right-relatedness, oh yeah!

  2. Denise says:

    I could not help but think of what C.S. Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity” as you spoke about the problem with an individualistic point of view when we come into relationship with one another. That we are actually creating a whole other reality that we must take into account, and that often in the Bible we find that God speaks to multiple people as though they were one.

    C.S. Lewis writes, “All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love’. But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean ‘Love is God’. They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement ‘God is love’. They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.

    And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not a static thing – not even a person – but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance. The union between the Father and the Son is such a live concrete thing that this union itself is also a Person. I know this is almost inconceivable, but look at it thus. You know that among human beings, when they get together in a family, or a club, or a trade union, people talk about the ‘spirit’ of that family, or club, or trade union. They talk about its ‘spirit’ because the individual members, when they are together, do really develop particular ways of talking and behaving which they would not have if they were apart (this corporate behavior may, of course, be either better or worse than their individual behavior.) It is as if a sort of communal personality came into existence. Of course, it is not a real person: it is only rather like a person. But that is just one of differences between God and us. What grows out of the joint life of the Father and Son is a real Person, is in fact the Third of the three Persons who are God. This third Person is called, in technical language, the Holy Ghost or the ‘spirit’ of God.”

    As followers of Christ we want our communal personality to reflect the true spirit of Jesus, which of course can only be manifested by our union through and with Him.

  3. Peter says:

    Denise, your observation and quote are great and underline that without our relationship with God we have virtually non-existent ‘lives’ in this world in any meaningful way.

    In Genesis 1:26 when God says, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”, He is not creating man to live as an individual but to have the ability to form relationships albeit, based on love, reflecting the Godhead. Later in Genesis 2:18 God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone”, that further underlies the relational structure of the Kingdom.

    At the time of the Fall, it is evident that the deep, loving relationship between man, woman and God was broken…effectively irreparable from mankind’s viewpoint. In a sense, man became at that point in time, an individual ie he lost union (relationship) with God and with each other for which he was originally created and was cast out of God’s sanctuary, Eden. Left in this situation, mankind has sought to satisfy this created need to relate in so many dysfunctional ways, mainly through idolatry and unnatural/distorted human relationships.

    Man will never be his true self and have true relationships until his proper relationship with God is restored. The amazing thing is that when this is achieved by salvation through Christ (a relational love action), we become that integral part of Jesus, conformed to His image (that which was lost at the Fall) and “in Him”…..so post conversion, we find ourselves relating as part of His body in His community, the Church…obeying the two main (relational) commandments to love God and our neighbour as ourself.

  4. Set Free says:

    I have prayed for years to feel God’s grace, mercy and peace over my daughter’s sudden split and divorce. I write with tear filled eyes, thank you Greg. No more condemnation, it is gone and thrown back to where it came from. Thank you Father, for Greg’s Heart Smart series. He has spoken words that have released the bondage that I, as a widowed parent, have been wrestling against for years. I am going to bury it now, so that I can better live my life filled with the fragrance of Jesus, no looking back.

  5. Karlton Glick says:

    Hi Everyone, I am (at least in my head) a radical anabaptist to the point of..uh.. complete social ineptitude (ha!) so anyway I wasn’t really grooving to the section “ultimate boundery..” I guess from my perspective right now I would rather say, yes, I divorced her, but I can’t really say that the Jesus condones that.. Pastor Greg you are my favorite pastor, and I can’t thank you enough, but to me your arguments sound so much like the “just war” arguments when you worked it out here.. wouldn’t you agree?

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