Study Guide: Move Over: The Root of Relationship Conflicts

Sunday January 7, 2018 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

We tend to break the world in to sacred and secular, but in reality this is a false dichotomy. No matter where Jesus was or what relationship he was in He was fully present as a walking talking embodiment of the Kingdom of God. Instead of walking around with hungry hearts using others in an attempt to fill up our need for security, significance, and worth, we are called to mimic Christ in all our relationships by being filled by our relationship with the Father and letting that overflow to those around us.

Extended Summary:

Jesus never took a break from the Kingdom in any of His relationships. The question for us is how to take his example and bring more of the Kingdom in to each of our relationships. We get this encouragement in Jesus’ prayer in John 17 where we see His hope that we will know that the same love that is in Jesus from the Father is available for us, and that people would know God’s love from our expression of this love to one another. We are not loved with a secondary love, but rather the same love that God loves himself.

A helpful way to think of the flow of love is vertical from God to us and horizontal from us to one another. It is God’s dream and design that we’d be filled vertically by His love and that love would overflow to those around us. Unfortunately we live in a world that is far from this truth and is dominated many times by division, hatred, jealously, and violence. The temptation in answering the question of “what is wrong with the world?” is to point the finger and blame others, but Jesus invites us to start with ourselves. What we often find is that our horizontal relationships are fragmented because our vertical relationship is being blocked.

The reality for all of us is that we were created with a God shaped hunger in our hearts. We all have a desire to matter, to be significant, and feel secure. This is a non-negotiable that will not go away no matter what. We were meant to be overflowers, but we can’t give to others what we don’t first have ourselves. So this requires us to first trust and surrender to God, because God can’t fill us if we’re not open to it. When the vertical flow stops our hunger for significance causes us to see the world around us as potential food. Instead of coming to these horizontal relationships full looking to overflow, we see them as potential sources of significance to feed off of. This in essence is idolatry. Our relationships turn in to quid pro quo conditional setups where we are willing to give as long as we’re getting something to make us feel full in return. This inevitably leads to fracturing.

If God is not the source, then He’s also no longer the center. We become the center and rather than being an overflowing cup of sorts, we turn in to a black hole constantly hungry for affection and worth. We use wealth, achievements, status, being right, possessions, ethnicity, good looks, fame, and a number of other things to gain our sense of a full life. In the process we end up sucking the life away from those around us instead of building them up. All fragmentation and conflict ultimately traces its way back to this striving for false life as its source.

In order to counter this temptation and remain free to love we must drink from the well that is God’s love regularly. In this we remain free being who were created to be, an overflower of the love we receive in order to build others up around and show them the love that Jesus prayed for us in the garden of Gethsemane.

Reflection Questions: