Why Our Relationships Are the Mission

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March 14, 2022

1 Peter 3:1-7 NIV

7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

CONSIDER THIS

There is so much going on in this letter we can’t possibly cover it all. It’s why we must live with these letters over the course of our whole lives. I want us to notice how Peter has been dropping in teaching on the nature of prayer. 

One of the most impactful classes I took in seminary was a class on healing and prayer. It was taught by the late, great, man of God, Donald Demaray. We read a lot of books on the subject, but we spent most of our time actually praying together. Dr. Demaray would work his way around the altar, modeling for us how to pray for and minister to one another in healing prayer. As each prayer time would begin he would ask the one being prayed for this question: “Are the channels clear?” He was asking, in essence, Are your relationships right?

Peter is doing a similar thing, quite subtly but clearly, in his letter. Watch:

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect . . . so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 

He’s saying, Keep the channels clear—which is another way of saying, make your relationships right. Watch again:

“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

Righteousness is not fundamentally about right behavior but right belonging to one another. It is about right relationships. This is why slander and deceitful speech and bearing false witness against others are so devastatingly serious. A person can manage their behavior and still not right their relationships. That is where self-righteousness comes from. Self-righteousness is just the outworking of hard-heartedness. People resist making their relationships right because they can’t come to grips with their own brokenness. Dr. Don was spot on wasn’t he? Are the channels clear? Are your relationships right?

Something tells me Peter took Jesus both literally and seriously when he said things like:

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

And in case that wasn’t clear enough there was this:

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15

Bottom line: keep the channels clear, making the relationships right—with Jesus, with yourself, in your marriage, with your children, with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, inside your organization, within the church, even with enemies. Nothing hinders the mission of Jesus in the world more than broken relationships among his people and within his Church. I say these words to the FarmTeam at Seedbed all the time: Our relationships are the mission, citing Jesus prayer for us:

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20

It’s why Peter is always saying things like this in today’s text:

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

You’ve heard it said. Unforgiveness is drinking poison and expecting it to kill the other person. The truth is it poisons the well for everyone around. 

It’s why Peter quotes Psalm 34, when he said, seek peace and pursue it. 

In closing, let’s remember Dr. Demaray was teaching us about healing. So often, the sickness, disease and brokenness in our physical bodies are directly tied to the brokenness in our relationships. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the brokenness in our churches are also deeply connected to the brokenness in our relationships. After all, we are the Body of Christ, aren’t we? 

And because I know many of you have sought peace and still hit a brick wall, I will remind you of Paul’s word to the Christians in Rome:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) In other words, it is not always possible and it does not all depend on you. That said, it pleases Jesus that you don’t give up. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. We hear you asking us, are the channels clear, even though you already know. Would you search our hearts and show us these broken relationships and lead us in our part of mending them. This can feel so heavy and yet this is such an easy burden for you to bear, so most of all open our hearts to your softening Spirit. Remind us that so often the brokenness in our bodies is so often tied directly to the brokenness of our relationships and such is the brokenness in your Body. Holy Spirit work healing in and among us.  Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

So how is it in your relationships? Don’t live in self condemnation over it. In fact, renounce shame and condemnation. That is what keeps you there. Could you just begin to open yourself to the willingness of Jesus to heal those relationships, in his way, in his time. Could you take even a small step in that direction today? He will lead you gently and wisely. So much depends on this. And it’s just not worth it to hold on to the brokenness. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

P.S.  290/365

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. Jesus inaugurated his earthly mission (and therefore ours who would continue it) with these words from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lords favor.” (Luke 4:18,19) Yes, we all indeed have been called to a healing ministry through our roles within the universal priesthood of believers. May God grant us sufficient grace to accomplish our task.

  2. Clear the channels

    The inner channels
    Where rivers of living water
    Will flow from within us
    Can be cleared or clogged
    By our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
    To prepare our heart
    For the way of the Lord,
    We must clear our inner channels
    And let His Spirit
    Freely flow from within us.

  3. “Are you persuaded you see more clearly than me? It is not unlikely that you may. Then treat me as you would desire to be treated yourself upon a change of circumstances. point me out a better way than I have yet known. Show me it is so by plain proof of Scripture. And if I linger in the path I have been accustomed to tread and therefore am unwilling to leave it, labor with me a little; tame me by the hand and lead me as I am able to bear.”–John Wesley

    If I am estranged from my longtime local UM church, it is because this piece of advice was not present when a pastor surfaced whose zeal for God did not follow the definition of love being patient as defined in Corinthians. John Wesley wrote a whole sermon on the subject of zeal and how it should never outstrip the definition of love!

    And if I am de-churched because I find the current church landscape challenging, it is for the same reason.

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