These past 10 weeks, I’ve been studying the first few chapters of Genesis, God’s promises to four generations of men and relationships. Relationships between these men as father and son, grandfather and great-grandfather. Relationships between them and their families. Relationships between them and their wives. Relationships between them and their wives’ families. Relationships between them and their sons. Relationships between their sons and their daughters. Relationships between them and their neighbors. Relationships between them and those in authority. And, most importantly, relationships between them and God.
That’s a lot of relationships. Especially if you consider all that relating happens in the first 50 chapters of Genesis—the first book of the Bible. Which means, there’s a pretty good chance we can assume that God places a lot of emphasis on relationships. Forming them. Cultivating them. Maintaining them. Learning from them.
I was thinking some about the relationships I have. Family. Boyfriend. Friends. Co-workers. Acquaintances. FedEx man. You get the picture. I have a lot of them. Which made me think about the amount of time I invest in each. And not only the amount of time, but the energy involved. Not the same amounts of time or the same levels of energy for each, of course. But, a lot of time and a lot of energy just the same.
And then I got to thinking about how God used relationships—healthy and unhealthy—to further His plans for each man in Genesis. The relationships that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph formed weren’t all peaches and cream. Each relationship had an effect—sometimes good, sometimes very good, sometimes bad, sometimes very bad—and a take-away lesson. Those take-away lessons weren’t necessarily visible to each man at the time, but they surely are visible to us all these years later. Visible and applicable.
The relationships that we have with one another mold us. They constantly apply pressure—good and bad—and they shape us. Our demeanors. Our attitudes. There’s a saying (somewhere and by someone) that we become most like those we spend our time with. I think that’s pretty true. And, likely why God asks us to have a relationship with Him, first and foremost. So that we can be more like Him. So that He can shape us. So that He can guide us in the choices we make. In the relationships we form. And, ultimately, so that He can use us to reach out to others.
God uses our relationships to grow us. And He uses us to grow those around us. We simply have to be willing and open. Willing to spend time with Him. Open to being used by Him. Willing and open to relationships.
[Note: I doubt people in Genesis stood in circles holding hands, but a Google image search of “relationships” came up with images I wouldn’t necessarily associate with the Bible.]