Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Power of a Relationship

by Larry Rouse

God created man to be a social creature. Because of this everyone has a God-given need to form relationships with others. “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Gen 2:18). God let Adam first see his need for companionship and then responded by creating Eve (Gen 2:19-23). Today there are many, because of their immaturity or because of their past hurts, that have tried to deny this need and live apart from others. All who take this path will live a lonely and painful life.

Our need for a relationship is also central in God’s drawing us to Him. God’s care, His understanding, His wanting to listen and communicate with us and His willingness to know and meet our real needs are revealed in the scriptures. “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psa 36:7).

The real focus of our faith is found in coming to “know God.” ”And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn 17:3). When we do this, we will slowly be changed to be like Him. Those who “walk with God” will find their lives transformed and filled.

Our adversary, Satan, will not sit idlely by without trying to destroy this relationship by offering substitutes. I believe this is Satan’s most powerful weapon. As Christians, we need to look carefully at which relationship is the most important to us, that of God or that of other men. From doctrinal issues, to the use of our time and our lives, our priorities in relationships will be seen. May we always stand with Paul as he wrote: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Gal 1:10).

The Example of Korah

Over the years I have seen men do things that made no sense whatsoever, until I examined their relationships. One of the more stunning examples in the Bible of how a relationship could influence others is found in the rebellion of Korah. Korah led a very “effective” rebellion against Moses. He used his relationship with “men of renown” to sway a majority of people to claim Moses and Aaron had cheated them by binding upon them their “traditional” view of the unique work of the priesthood. “They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Num 16:3).

Once the discussion turned from the revealed will of God to man’s sense of “fairness” then Satan was able to use all of the tools in his arsenal. No doubt that these leaders of the various families had time to spread their anger in private meetings about the “legalism” of Moses and Aaron in their insistence that only priests could be used in the offering of incense in worship to God. Anger is an effective tool in shutting down the mind and inciting men to “mob action.” “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov 18:19).

Most of those in the wilderness did not know God, and, as a result, they failed to reasonably look to see how God had displayed His authority so that they could clearly know His will. From the signs given to Pharaoh in the freeing of the people, to the parting of the Red Sea and ultimately in the delivering of the 10 commandments, God had shown to Israel over and over again that Moses was His spokesman. Many of the people, however, because of their relationships, were not going to accept this truth.

The Destruction of Korah and his Associates

The end of Korah and his fellow troublemakers was predicable. After several appeals to reason, God made a powerful display of His wrath upon Korah’s new approach to worship. Imagine watching this scene as “the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly” (Num 16:31-33).

The Stunning Response of the People

After seeing this incredible display of the direct wrath of God, any rational man would assume that the people would now understand God’s way and the role that Moses played as God’s servant. Here is where we see the diabolical power of relationships in the hands of Satan. The poison had already been effectively delivered by Korah in destroying the respect the people should have had for Moses. Because these falsehoods had been delivered by ungodly men that the people had come to trust and love but were now dead, these people are now ready to fight Moses, God and anything else that got in their way of their anger. “On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord” (Num 16:41). Did Moses open up the earth and cause these men to be swallowed up? No, but these people clearly wanted the relationship with these ungodly men over a relationship with God. All of these men died in the wilderness and never entered the Promised Land.

The Battle Before Us Today

I have seen the rebellion of Korah replayed many times in my life. As churches are swept away by apostasy, most “arguments” consist of social pressure and ridicule rather than an open study before the God that we should fully trust. Great preachers, influential men and past “great” relationships are held before us as “proof” that we are “traditionalists” or “legalists” and therefore should line up with the majority. Others will follow their children in rebellion by “restudying” the subject of divorce and remarriage after their offspring needed to justify a new marriage that was contrary to God’s teachings. Others will blindly follow editors of gospel papers, or elders of local churches out of a loyalty to a relationship and in opposition to the plain teachings of God’s word.

The Path Less Traveled

Build your faith upon God. Come to know His will and turn away from those who would use social pressure to bring you into bondage to men. While you may lose relationships, you will never be alone. Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (Jn 16:1-3) Later in the same chapter Jesus pointed to His future example: “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:32-33).

Let us draw near to our God that will never leave us alone!
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