Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Final Part

How beautiful is Christianity.  First, because of the sparkling quality of its intellectual answers, but second, because of the beautiful quality of its human and personal answers.  And these are to be rich and beautiful.  A crabbed Christianity is less that what the Bible teaches.  But these human and personal answers do not come mechanically after we become a Christian.  They come only on the level of what God made us to be in the first place, and that is personal.  God wants us to know him and relate to him on a personal level.  This is the beauty of the Creator-creature relationship.  We were created, wired, designed, to know God and be in relationship to Him.  There is no other way to have these beautiful answers.  They cannot be achieved mechanically, or by only standing in a proper legal circle, as important as that is.   They grow ‘in the light’ of what we say we believe as Bible believing Christians; that we are creatures, and that while we are not perfect in this life, even after becoming Christians, yet through moment-by-moment faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, beautiful human relationships can and do come forth because of our relationship to God, through Christ.  There must be accurate and sound biblical doctrine, true.  But there must also be biblical and sound practice of those doctrines, that frame the basis of our human relationships.   

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing in Personal Relationships – Part 9

Love is the interplay of the whole personality.  The relationship is personal, and the whole personality of man is the unit of body-soul-spirit.  The Bible teaches that there is such a thing as a continuation of the spirit, after the body dies.  But we must be careful not to be platonic here.   The emphasis in the Scripture is upon the unity of the whole man.  And with communication—substantial, though not perfect—the body is the instrument.  Actually there is no other way to have communication except through the body.  But in marriage this becomes a very special thing to understand.  Sexual love and romantic love are both equally out of place if they are extramarital and therefore outside of the proper legal circle.  Both are wrong, and equally wrong.  And if either is the ‘all’ even with the proper legal relationship, they must dwindle and end in an agony or a search for variety; but if the couple stand as personalities—personality facing personality—within that which is the proper legal circle, then both the romantic and the sexual has its fulfillment in the full circle of what we are, in thinking, acting, and feeling.   

God designed that there should be a ring of life within the legal circle of marriage.  There is to be joy and beauty in the interplay of the total personalities.  Achieving God’s design for the highest level of joy and beauty in marriage can only be achieved through the person of Jesus Christ, being ‘in’, the center of, the life of the marriage.  Only God, through the person of Jesus Christ, provides/infuses the necessary life ingredients that create the moment-by-moment environment for love and communication to grow and flourish. 

Sin (the Fall) has brought a division between man and woman, and thus their bodies tend to be separated from their personalities.  To the extent that we live thus, we are less than man was meant to be.  If we as Christians live with this separation, we are saying that the twenty -first century man is right when he says, ‘we are only animals or machines.’  In the animal world the sexual relationship at its proper moment is enough, but it is never so with man.  The personal (the whole man as he was created) is needed.  The thing must be seen as a whole, as a unit, whole man, body-soul-spirit, within the legal circle, as personal, with personality, joined to Christ, with the reality of communication and love.   (We conclude this study with the next post)

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 8

We are finite, and therefore do not expect to find final sufficiency in any human relationship, including marriage.  The final sufficiency is to be found only in a relationship to God. But on the basis of the finished work of Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit – God and the instrument of faith, there can be a real and substantial true joy in our relationships ‘and’ healing in those relationships when, where, and as it is needed. 

As Christians we understand something more.  Not only are we finite, as we were created, but since the Fall we are all sinners; therefore we know that relationships will not be perfect.  But on the basis of the finished work of Christ, human relationships can be substantially healed, and can be joyous. Christianity is the only answer to the problem of man.  Modern multiple divorce is rooted in the fact that many are seeking in human relationships what human relationships can never give.  Why do they have multiple divorce, instead of merely promiscuous affairs?  Because they are seeking more than merely the sexual relationship.  But they can never find it, because what they are seeking does not exist in a purely finite relationship.  It is like trying to quench thirst by swallowing sand.   

If man tries to find everything in a man-woman or a friend-to-friend relationship, he destroys the very thing he wants and destroys the ones he loves.  He sucks them dry, he eats them up, and they as well as the relationship are destroyed.  But as Christians we do not have to do that.  Our sufficiency of relationship is in that which God made it to be, in the infinite-personal God, on the basis of the work of Christ in communication and love.   

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 7

Continuing with righting wrongs…..

As Christians, we must remember that Christ’s crucifixion was real and in the external world.  In the book of Philippians we are told: You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.. 2:5 NLT.  Christ’s crucifixion was on a hill, by a road, where everybody who passed by could not only see his pain, but also his shame.  It was not done in a shadow, hidden away somewhere.  And when you and I have some concept of really seeking to honor and follow Christ’s example, our confession to God and to man must be as open as Christ’s crucifixion was open on that hill, before the eyes of man.  We have to be willing for the shame, as well as the pain, in an open place.  It is not enough merely to agree with the principle as we deal with these personal relationships; we must put it into practice.  Only in this way can we give a demonstration to a watching world, in a way that they can understand, that we live in a personal universe, and that personal relationships are valid and important.  Only in this way can we show that we have been bought and forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ not just in theory, but in practice, and that there can be substantial healing of the separation between men in the present life, and not just when we get on the other side of death.  And if the other man is not a Christian that makes no difference.  The demonstration and the reality is to be on our part, not his.   

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 6

If I am living in a real  personal relationship with the God-Trinity, my human relationships become more important in one way, because I see the real value of man, but less important in another way because I do not need to be God in these relationships any longer.  So now I can go up to a man and say, ‘I am sorry for such and such specific harm I have done you,’ without smashing the integration point of my universe, because my integration point is no longer myself, but God.  And we do not need to wait for the big explosions, especially among brothers and sisters in Christ.  We do not need to wait for someone else to begin.  This is being what we should be, and it should be moment by moment.   

This is communication. The men of the modern world are asking whether personality is real, whether communication is real, whether it has meaning.  We Christians can talk till we are blue in the face, but it will all be meaningless unless we exhibit communication.  When as a Christian I stand before a man and say ‘I am sorry,’ this is not only legally right and pleasing to God, but it is true communication on a highly personal level.  In this setting, the human race is human.   

Of course, confession to God must always come first.  It is confession to God and bringing sin under the shed blood of Christ that cleanses us—not confession to man.  We must always stress that, over and over again, because men get confused.  But this does not change the fact that after there has been confession to God, then there must be real communication n a man-to-man, personal relationship with the person I have hurt.  

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 5  (Saying we are ‘truly’ sorry)

Now we must ask, what happens when someone has been hurt by my sin?  The Bible teaches that the moment we have sincerely confessed this sin to God, the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is enough to cleanse the moral guilt.  As Christians we insist that all sin has bearing, correlation, and relationship in being contrary to the perfect nature of God and that all sin is ultimately ‘against God’.  When I hurt the man, I sin against God. But let us never forget that this does not change the fact that because man has been made in the image of God, the man I have hurt has real value.  And this must be important to me, not only as a concept but in my practice and demonstration.  My fellowman is not unimportant: he is God’s image-bearer.  That is true of the non-Christian man as well as of the Christian.  He is lost, but he is still a man.  Thus when God says, ‘My child, this sin is different; in this sin you have hurt another person,’ I respond, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’  And the answer is clear from the word of God: ‘Make it right with the man you have hurt.  The man you have hurt is not a zero.’ 

But what is the usual reaction when God says to me, ‘Go and make it right’?  It is to answer, ‘But that would be humiliating.’  Yet surely, if I have been willing to tell God I am sorry when I have sinned, I must be willing to tell this to the man I have hurt.  How can I say, ‘I am sorry’ to God, if I am not willing to say, ‘I am sorry’ to the man I have hurt, when he is my equal, my fellow creature, my kind?  Such repentance is meaningless hypocrisy.  This is why so many of us have deadness in our lives.  We cannot just trample human relationships and expect our relationship to God to be lovely, beautiful, and open.  This is not only a matter of what is legally right, but of a true relationship of person to person on the basis of who I am and who the man is.   

In James 5:16 we are told, ‘Confess your faults one to another.’ We are not told to confess our faults to a priest, not to the group, unless the group has been harmed, but to the person we have harmed.  This is a very simple admonition, but in our present imperfect state, very difficult to obey.  To go and say, ‘I am sorry’ is to enter by the low door: first in confessing to God, and then to the individual harmed.  Let me emphasize, this is a person before me, a human being, made in God’s image.  So it is not such a low door after all, because all it involves is being willing to admit our equality with the one we have hurt.  Being his equal it is perfectly right that I should want to say, ‘I am sorry.’  Only a desire to be a superior makes me afraid to confess and apologize.  (con’t tomorrow)

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 4 

Every time I see something right in another man, it tends to minimize me, and it makes it easier for me to have a proper creature-to-creature relationship.  But each time I see something wrong in others, it is dangerous, for it can exalt self, and when this happens, my open fellowship with God falls to the ground.  So when I am right, I can be wrong.  In the midst of being right, if self is exalted, my fellowship with God can be destroyed.  It is not wrong to be right, but it is wrong to have the wrong attitude in being right, and to forget that my relationship with my fellowmen must always be personal.  If I really love a man as I love myself, I will long to see him be what he could be on the basis of Christ’s work, for that is what I want or what I should want for myself on the basis of Christ’s work.  And if it is otherwise, not only is my communication with the man broken, but my communication with God as well.  For this is sin, breaking Christ’s second commandment to love my neighbor as myself.   

This remains true even if the man is desperately wrong and I am right.  When 1 Corinthians 13:6 says “Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing”, it means exactly what it says.  When we find another man to be wrong, we are not to rejoice in his wrongdoing.  And how careful I must be, every time I see a situation where I am right and another man is wrong, not to use it as an excuse to scramble into a superior position over that man, rather than remembering the proper relationship of fellow creatures before God.  

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 3 

We must recognize that no human relationship is going to be finally and completely sufficient.  The finally sufficient relationship must be with God himself.  As Christians we have this relationship, and so our human relationships can be valid without being the finally sufficient thing.  As sinners, acknowledging that we are not perfect in this life, we do not need to cast away every human relationship, including the relationship of marriage, or the relationships of Christians inside the church, or the relationships we find in our work-place relationships and in our neighborhoods just because they prove not to be perfect.  On the basis of the finished work of Christ it is possible, once I have seen this, to begin to understand that my relationships can be substantially healed in the present life.  When two Christians find that their relationship has hit a wall, they can come hand-in-hand and bring their failures under the blood of Christ, and get up again and go on.  Think what this means practically in the areas of human relationships, in marriage, in the church, the parent-child relationships, the employer-employee relationship.   

What we need to hear:  When we say we are a Christian, we need to realize we have a responsibility to demonstrate the existence of God in how we live our life and how we ‘relate’ to others because we have the life of Christ living inside our bodies.  We have love and communication from above and we are made whole from above in our identity and position as being a child of our Heavenly Father.  We must see the God intended design for people loving people ‘because’ we are loved by God.  If there is no demonstration in our attitude toward other men that demonstrates we really take seriously the person-to-person relationship, we might as well keep quiet.  There must be demonstration; that is our calling:  to show that there is a reality in personal relationship, and not just words about it.  If the individual Christian, and if the church of Christ is not allowing the Lord Jesus Christ to bring forth his fruit into the world, as a demonstration in the area of personal relationships, we cannot expect the world to believe.  Lovelessness is a sea that knows no shore, for it is what God is not.  And eventually not only will the other man drown, but I will drown, and worst of all, the demonstration of God drowns as well when there is nothing to be seen but a sea of lovelessness and impersonality.   

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing In Personal Relationships – Part 2

Now, turning from our person-to-person relationship with God, let us think of the relationship between ourselves, that is, within our own kind.  Man-to-man, in a person-to person relationship. 

Man, having put himself rather than God at the center of the universe, constantly tends to turn inward instead of outward.  He has made himself the last integration point of the universe.  This is the essence of man’s rebellion against God.  Now with God this does not make a problem, for when God turns to himself, he is Trinity, and the members of the trinity have been having love and communication among themselves before the creation of the world; perfect love and communication.  So when God turns to himself as the center of the universe, there is still communication and love.  But when I turn inward (and I must always realize that I begin and end with my own imperfection because I am a fallen man) there is no one to communicate with.  And so each man in himself is exactly like the bullheaded minotaurus, shut up in his personal solitude in his labyrinth at Crete.  This is the tragedy of man.  He is not adequate and there is no one there to answer at the man-to-man level who can provide complete and perfect love and communication.   

This not only leads to psychological problems, but it also destroys my relationship with others.  On the other hand, when I begin really to think, act, and live as a creature in a personal relationship with the Creator, then I can turn outward, as an equal to other men.  Suddenly I am no longer mumbling to myself.  Once I accept myself as an equal to all men, I can talk as an equal to other men.  I no longer have to talk to myself centrally and finally.  If I acknowledge that I am really not God, and that since the Fall we are all sinful, then I can have true human relationships without battering myself to pieces because they are not sufficient in themselves, or because they are not perfect.  The trouble with human relationships is that man without God does not realize that all men are sinful and imperfect, and so he hangs too much on his personal relationships, and they crush and break.  No love affair between a man and a woman has ever been great enough to hang everything on.  It will crumble away under your feet.  And as the edges begin to break away the relationship is destroyed.  But when I experience myself as a creature in the presence of God ‘my’ Creator and I see that the most important and highest relationship intended for me is with an infinite God, and I begin to see that these human relationships are among equals, I can take from a human relationship what God meant it to provide, without putting the whole structure under an intolerable burden. More than this, when I acknowledge that none of us are perfect in this life, I can enjoy that which is beautiful in a relationship, without expecting it to be perfect. 

And thus my starting point for each day, in order to love and communicate at the highest level with my fellow-man, begins with this:  God, my perfect, complete, and infinite heavenly Father, loves me perfectly and completely ‘just as I am’…in my imperfection.  Because of the infinite work of Christ on the cross, wherein I have placed my faith, I belong to God’s family.  I am no longer alone.  He is with me and will never leave me. He is my source and supply.  Only He can fill my deepest longings.  In Him and through Him, I am learning to love and communicate and have genuine love for my fellow-man.  We have His light shining in our hearts, ‘so that’ we can know His love and then show His love to others. 

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 NLT:  

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Substantial Healing in Personal Relationships – Part 1   

We turn now to the next chapter; Substantial Healing in Personal Relationships.  So we must first turn to the problem of personality, and specifically to the elements of love and communication as we must grasp that central and key to our understanding is the fact that God is a personal God.  The Christian system of thought and life begins with a God who is infinite and personal, with a strong emphasis on his personality.  Because of this, personality is truly valid and central in the universe and is not just a matter of chance.   

Throughout the Word of God it is made very plain that God deals with us first of all on the basis of what he himself is; and secondly on the basis of what he has made us.  He will not violate that which he himself is, nor will he violate that which he has made us to be.  So God himself always deals with man on a basis of personal relationship.  It is always a person-to-person relationship.  More than this, because God is infinite he can deal with each one of us personally as though each one was the only man who existed.  He can deal with us personally because he is infinite.  We also find that God’s dealing with men is never mechanical. There are no mechanical elements to it.  His dealing with man is also not primarily legal, though there are proper legal aspects to it which are founded and rooted in God’s own character.

 The God of the Bible differs from the gods that man makes.  He is a God who has a character, and that character is the law of the universe, total and complete.  When man sins, he breaks that law, and because that law is broken, man is guilty and God must deal with us in this proper legal relationship.  Therefore, since we have been sinners, we must be justified before we can come to God.  But though God does deal with us in the proper legal relationship, nevertheless centrally he does not deal with us legally, but personally.   

Our theme in the next few days as we finish our study in this book is true spirituality in relation to the problem of my separation from my fellowman.  It is appropriate that the first ‘other’ we must take into consideration is God, rather than another man.  

Just as God always deals with man on the basis of what God is, and what we are, we should and must do the same in regard to our thoughts about God and our dealings with him.  Our relationship with God must never be thought of as mechanical.  That is why a strong sacerdotal system must always be wrong.  We can never deal with God in a mechanical sense, and we should not deal with him on a merely legal basis, though there are these proper legal relationships.  Our relationship with God after we have become a Christian (become justified) must always be centrally a person-to-person relationship.  

Of course, there is this distinction that must not be forgotten, that he is a Creator and we are creatures; therefore, in all my thoughts and acts toward God I must keep the creature-Creator relationship in mind.  This however, does not alter the person-to-person nature of our relationship.  So the command is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  He is satisfied with nothing less than my loving him.  I am not called merely to be justified.  Man was created to be in a personal fellowship with God and to love him.  Prayer is always to be seen as a person-to-person communication, not merely a devotional exercise.  Indeed, when prayer becomes only a devotional exercise, it is no longer biblical prayer.      

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc