Expectations in Relationships

In our individualist and consumeristic culture it’s really hard to remember what relationships are even about biblically.  

So I figured I’d take a post to remind me and you about what relationships are for and what they’re not for: 


× Relationships exist to persevere one another.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV)

There’s a problem that the writer is warning the Hebrew church about: ‘an evil unbelieving heart that leads them to fall away from the living God.”

“But” or ‘instead’ of letting that happen, they should do something that will keep them from that: exhort one another every day as long as it is called today that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

In other words: if you belong to God, then He has ordained the means of your perseverance: community that ‘exhorts’ you or speaks truth in love to you – helping you not be led astray by your unbelief.

Community does exist ‘for you in one sense.  But not just to make you feel good.  To challenge you and push on you and teach you to see sin in your heart so that you aren’t deceived.

× Relationships exists to move the kingdom of God forward.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  (John 17:20-21 ESV)

Jesus’ prayer: that we would be one.  We would be unified .  Why?

So that the world may believe in Jesus.

That’s crazy.  Jesus thinks that seeing you and I love each other will lead people to believe in Him.  Crazy.

× Relationships are NOT about finding bffs.

I know that you want to like the people you do life with.  I get it.  Me too.  I want them to have personalities and a sense of humor that mesh with mine.

But every now and then it’s helpful to get a little splash of perspective.

I get that perspective when I think about the Turkish Church. In the whole country of Turkey there are about 5000 believers.  That means that more people come to my church on a Sunday then there are believers in all of Turkey.

When you talk to Christians in turkey, they want community in a desperate way.  And you know what their standard is?  Someone else who loves Jesus.  They are searching and praying for God to bring them one single person who knows about God and who will help them live out this mission and fight for faith.

We don’t get to pick our family.

God picked His family.  He adopted you and me and the men and women in our churches are our brothers and sisters.  We don’t get to send them back.  We don’t get to ignore them if we don’t mesh well.  They’re our family.

We don’t shop for community.  We trust God.  We link arms with people who love Jesus no matter how different and no matter how annoying because there are bigger things happening here in this world then finding a pal who will be a fun coffee date on a Saturday afternoon.

× Relationships are NOT Jesus.

You cannot expect community to satisfy your soul.  Relationships are desperately important and an immense gift, but they are not supposed to save you: not from loneliness, not from pain, not from fear, not from death, not from insecurity.  We only have one Savior.

Here are a couple of questions to get your wheels turning:

  • Do you often feel let down by people?  Or do you try to expect nothing from people?
  • What does it look like to have healthy expectations without putting your hope in people?

4 thoughts on “Expectations in Relationships

  1. Thank you for writing this. It was really unexpected, and something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I consider joining a long-term team in a country like… Turkey! Ha! Its hard for us here in the states to imagine what missionaries face in being away from family and community. Just try and imagine not having anyone to share your daily struggles (and joys) with. That’s why the relationship with Christ has to be so solid, because He will be all that you have oftentimes. He has to be your BFF! 😉 This post has many applications! As always, thanks for your words!

  2. yes, yes, yes, yes — convicting widsom here. This post will go in my “saved” file and be read over and over again.

  3. I found it interesting that you mentioned Turkey, as the Believers there came alive to me in the recent past. My family had the privilege of hosting a MBB Turkish Christian (with a huge vision/passion for his country) for not-nearly-long-enough, but gaining an idea of what it’s like to be without fellowship. Praise God the Church in Turkey is growing and God’s Word is going forth via Radio and Internet in ways that cannot be accomplished by missionaries!

    Thanks for the reminders of what relationships are REALLY about.

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