Saturday, September 3, 2011

Uncommon Wisdom: A Relationship Series

I'm pumped about the series we're starting tomorrow! I'm typically excited to start any series, and that's why I start them. With this one, I just have this sense that it will help put some relationships in order that are currently struggling.

But it's not just a "marriage series". It will apply to romantic relationships, but we also need help in our other relationships, like between parents and children, brothers and sisters, work relationships, friendships, etc.

As a pastor I spend a lot of time talking with people about what makes life hard for them, and "relationships" is one of the top offenders. And what's weird is that, most of the time it isn't that people are clueless and have no common wisdom about relationships. It's more that they rely on a "wisdom" that's very common but, at best, very lacking and, at worst, very misleading. And so they end up with very common relationships -- meaning they're broken, breaking or just plain frustrating.

I've been a Wisdom nut for a long time. I love Proverbs. Even Ecclesiasties. I also love the New Testament book of Wisdom, aka "James", because it's a book about Christian wisdom. It talks to the practical side of life.

  • It talks about things like "religion that God finds acceptable" and dares to requires of us that we "look after orphans and widows in their distress, and keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 
  • It talks about favoritism and discrimination. 
  • It points out that when someone praises God and curses people, it's evidence of a polluted heart.
  • And it deals with relationships.

I don't do a lot of memorizing, but several years ago I put a little tune to James 3:17 so I could remember it. It wasn't good enough to go public with, but it stuck with me. Recently I was reflecting on it, thinking of it as a simple tribute to the qualities of wisdom: Wisdom is pure, peace-loving, gentle at all times, willing to yield to others, full of mercy, full of good deeds, showing no favorites, always sincere. But as I studied it, and read it in context--the stuff before and after--I realized that this little summary is not the broad-brush stroke that I was thinking it was. It's actually dealing with a specific kind of wisdom: Wisdom for Relationships.

So as I've started studying it in context--Wow. I'm pumped to be able to take time to develop this, first, for the ongoing understanding and application in my own relationships, and second, to give hope and help to people who come to Bahia Vista each week (in person or online) for the counsel of God's word.

So, here's my invitation: If you or someone you know is living with broken, breaking or just plain frustrating relationships, invite them to discover God's wisdom about it. Sunday at 9:30 AM (ET) for "Traditions" or 11AM (ET) for "Innovations". I believe God wants to give them hope and help for their relationships as we deal directly with things we've all thought, said and heard:

  • "What's in it for me?"
  • "You're gonna pay."
  • "Put yourself in my shoes for a change."
  • "Why do thing always have to go your way?"
  • "Just give me one more chance."
  • "I'll believe it when I see it!"
  • "Can't you make an exception for me?"
  • "How can I trust you?"

I really believe that as we look at God's "Uncommon Wisdom" for relationships, it'll bring healing and understanding where there's already broken relationships, it will rescue breaking relationships, and it will help us all to reduce the many frustrations of just doing life together.

Prayerfully, humbly, expectantly...
Amen.