How To Have Good Relationships

By Tim Greenwood

The understanding of relationships is an important subject, and could be central to an individuals worship of God.

What exactly is a relationship? What is a good one? What is a bad one?

Every time we 'connect' with another person, we establish a relationship. I say 'connect', because a relationship can be established or at least initiated by a look, a touch, verbal communication, etc. Initiating a relationship does not make for a complete relationship. A relationship is like an electrical connection, a two way road. I liken it to double pipeline, with one pipe belonging to each participant in the relationship. Through each of these pipes emanates either a positive or negative flow at any given time.

A positive flow, represents giving or outgoing, unselfishness, service or 'love'. A negative flow represents taking or acts of selfishness, abuse, overt neglect or put another way 'hate'. Like electrical flow in a wire or traffic flow on a road, that flow can fluctuate in speed, strength and intensity. That is to say that ones part in a relationship can range widely within either the positive range or the negative range. From 'a kind word' to a 'deep abiding love and admiration'. Or from 'careless hurtfulness' to a' deadly hatred'. The full gamut of positive and negative relationships.

What constitutes a 'good' relationship is one where both sides (both pipelines) are flowing in the positive range. Conversely, a 'bad' relationship is one where both sides (both pipelines) are flowing in the negative range. A 'dysfunctional' relationship is one where one pipe is flowing in the positive range and the other pipe is flowing in the negative range.

Now that is how a relation works, but this is what a relationship is or should actually be: God designed relationships of every kind to be legally binding good faith contractual relationships, in every way operating just like the parties in the realtionship had verbally given their word and physically signed the contract with implied or specific obligations upon all parties. A broken, or violated relationship, agreement, promise, appointment, treaty and etc, is simply a breached or broken contract.

Who's example should we follow?

In today's society, the word 'love' has been so overly used and misused to the point that we hardly know what the word means anymore. For the same reasons, it is equally difficult to determine which examples to follow to pattern a good relationship. What example are we to follow? Our parents? Ok, then we begin to notice their failings here and there. That 'perfect married couple' that attends our church? Ok, and then two months later she moves out, lock, stock and barrel to go 'live with' some other guy. It's harder yet.

It is my belief, that there has never, in the history of mankind, been an 'continuously, perfect, lasting' completely full force, totally positive relationship between two human beings. Then... to whom does one look? God. In fact, God has already initiated a relationship with each of us. More than that, his part of that relationship (his pipeline) is already running 'full blast positive with outgoing service and love; giving, compassion, mercy and forgiveness whether or not we have even noticed!

What is our individual side (our pipe) or part of the relationship doing? Is it running full force positive like God's side? Is it sitting idol and empty? Is it running full force negative, selfishly taking? Or is it somewhere in between? Perhaps one does have some level of a positive loving relationship with God... How strong and steady is it's flow? Is it weak, just a dribble? Does it fluxuate between positive and negative; between give and take; between love and hate?

The perfect example!

God even provided a perfect example of how to participate in the relationship! The only example we have of a human being participating in God's relationship, full force, all give all positive and all loving, was the example of Jesus. In fact one of the reasons Jesus came to sojourn with mankind, was to show us this very example! That is... to show us that God loves us, and that he wants us to enter into a loving relationship with him. To show us how to participate in a positive, loving, giving, serving way in that relationship. To supplement this example Jesus also taught that we should love God with everything we have... "with all your heart and mind". Jesus also taught and lived another important example... That example was to also love one another through legally binding good faith contractual relationships G in the same way that God expresses His love for us. Just like Jesus expresses His love for God. And like He expresses His love for mankind.

What do we need to do?

Our first goal then, should be to begin to follow Jesus's example and participate in God's loving relationship with us; to nurture the relationship; to develop a deeper, broader level of outgoing love, service, concern, etc. and then to strive for wholeness and fulfillment by returning God's love, equal to his love for us.

At the same time, our second goal should be to establish, nurture and/or develop positive relationships with everyone with whom you come into contact. This should manifest itself at the very least, as non-judgmental and treating all others with respect and courtesy. And once you do extablish a relationship, make sure that you keep, uphold and fulfil your part of that good faith relationship, no matter what.

How do we begin?

We as human beings, unlike God, are subject to time limitations, limiting us to a twenty four hour day and a seventy or eighty year life span. Where God can develop a deep abiding relationship with all mankind, we will only make contact with a small percentage of mankind as the whole. So a good place to begin, would be with our immediate family, then, the extended family, close friends, etc., working our way out from our empirical self. Making sure to pay attention to monitor the flow of our part (our own pipelines) in every relationship, making sure the flow is as positive as we are able to produce, while not allowing our flow to ebb or go negative or accepting a negitive flow from another party in that contractual relationship.

The ultimate goal...

As Christians, it should be our goal to follow the examples of Jesus Christ and to commit and fulfill what he taught and instructed us how to operate. The New Testament, (a contract or agreement pursuant to participation in a relationship between the Christian and God), condenses the law to "love God" and "love mankind". This is so much more than just a nice platitude and 'religious' rhetoric. If we love God, like he loves us, and then we begin loving each other the same way... this begins to weave the very fabric of the Kingdom of God! If we become able to fully love without reservation, like God loves us, then we come closer to becoming like God. If we can imagine, a world where everyone has a positive, outgoing concern and love for one another... are we not imagining in large part the Kingdom of God.

Is this all there is to being a Christian?

This of course is not all there is to being a Christian. It is only one aspect. But, this one aspect is very important, and if understood and accomplished as outlined, will set you well on your way to becoming "like Jesus".