There is nothing more important in your life than relationships. At times we may lose sight of that fact as we become overwhelmed with school, work, illnesses, stresses, finances, sin but it remains a solid truth. You can have all the money in the world, all the toys, all the knowledge; you could have all the spiritual gifts and a great ability to communicate with people, but without love you have nothing and you are nothing. In the end the only thing that counts are the people you love and those you tried to love. Mother, father, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, wife, children, friends; but the most important of all is Jesus. Without his love you are completely lost.
Relationships require some special ingredients to work in our throw-away society. Too often we are prepared to throw away relationships that don't seem to be working, that somehow got broken. But we know from Jesus' perspective that relationships are worth pursuing at all cost and that with the special ingredients he supplies everything can be repaired. The ingredients are simple.
It starts with love. Not the Hallmark love but the trench warfare love. The love that says, no matter the cost, you will protect your buddy's life, the guy who is fighting beside you. You might not like some parts of his character but in the fight you have come to appreciate each other, despite the differences, and you would give your life to protect and defend him as he would for you. Love is a decision and from this applied decision other things begin to spring up.
Relationships grow strong where their is a decided reaction of forgiveness. No matter what your friends, or even your enemies, do to offend you, that relationship is so important to you that forgiveness covers over anything that offends. Love also demands vulnerability, a willingness to be hurt, trusting that Jesus repairs the heart. This means you take actions of trust even if the other person's idea of love may not be perfect. You decide to trust and live with the consequences. Wow, does this ever fly in the face of what is being taught today. Love is a risk but the rewards are so great that it does not matter.
Where am I getting this from? Watching Jesus. It is what he did for us. We were his enemies and he threw himself into our arms. He loved us from the start and because of that love he chose to forgive us even though we did not merit it. There are a lot of broken relationships in your life that do not merit your forgiveness, but they have enough value that they are worth the price of forgiving.
When Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to the cross there were no guarantees that anyone would respond to his sacrifice. He hoped, he trusted, he longed for us to respond, and many have. But many more have not. Most of the world has rejected his love, his forgiveness, his grace. Imagine the hurt he feels from this after all he did. But he considered relationship with us to be worth the risk of the sacrifice. Some of the broken relationships in your life will not be repaired despite your step of trust and vulnerability. There are those who have allowed their hearts to grow cold toward you, but don't let the brokenness remain due to your lack of effort and love. No one can accuse Jesus of not doing enough because he did it all.
There is a verse in Lamentations that we use a lot because it gives each day a sense of new hope. In context this it what it says:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” (3:22-24)
It speaks of the great love of Yahweh for his people. Those people are us. In the fulfillment of his promise he sent Jesus to represent his love and forgiveness. It is because of his mercies that we are not consumed. His compassion for us never fails, even though we often fail in the relationship. He renews this relationship every morning as we open our eyes. His faithfulness to his promises, to us, is beyond words. We say it time and again: Jesus is our everything; he is our portion; our promise; our hope. And in this relationship of love he told us, "love as I have loved you".
How can we accept such incredible love, demonstrating to us how real relationship works, and then not love people in our lives in the same manner? It doesn't matter who broke the relationship, it only matters how we respond to the brokenness. You aren't responsible for how they react to you and if it is rejection then it is rejection, but you never give up. You never walk away. You love even if they become your enemy. There is a cost to love without there always being a benefit. That is the nature of Jesus' love. Relationships are all that matter and Jesus' relationship with us is the foundation in our life from which we build all other relationships. Doesn't matter if you like it; it is fact. Now are you mature enough to act on that fact?