We need a compelling vision for our life together. Marriage, family, friendship, and neighbours need a vision for life together that extends beyond being happy or getting rid of problems. Without a vision of why we are doing life together most of us will grow weary, disillusioned, and ready to move on to next new and more exciting venue.
As responders to the grace of God through Jesus we seek to honour Jesus Christ with our lives and our relationships. In marriage we seek to heat up a vision for oneness. In family we seek to heat up a vision for stewarding the image of God. In friendship we seek to heat up a vision for creating an environment that welcomes and makes room for the stranger.
The apostles spent a great deal of energy communicating a compelling vision for people who were under stress. Stress and distress erode our vision for relationships–with God and with each other. It requires some disciplined thought to remind ourselves that we are called to face painful realities together in order to bring glory and honour to Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews writes to a people facing some duress: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13
My assumption in relationships must be that others need encouragement too. They need it daily. The danger of losing heart or courage is that we become unbelieving, untrusting of God and thus hardened toward a course of action and habits of emoting and thinking that fuel decay and destruction rather than freshness and life.
James 5 highlights some temptations we face when we are under duress.
- We are tempted to compare our lives with others who seem to have life easy and discount the value of building our lives on Christ.
- We may become impatient with waiting and therefore abandon the “field” or calling God has giving us.
- We may grumble against other people, lashing out at them verbally.
- We may seek to manipulate others through grand, extravagant, or angry speech full of promises or curses.
- We may abandon our very life-line: prayer, conversation with God.
If you recognize any of these in yourself or in those closest to you it is time for you to point yourself and others toward your compelling vision. “Fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” Hebrews 3:1
Encouragement takes many forms:
- We need reminders of who we are in Christ.
- We need reminders of how valuable we are in these relationships.
- We need reminders of the importance of our personal diligence and contribution.
- And we may need help sorting out how to adjust our behaviour to match our belief in Jesus and His Word.