God is a very personal God. It is amazing how he speaks to each one of us on such an individual basis. It’s as if we are the only ones in this relationship. In fact my friend Brian Coatney even says he only has one relationship, and that’s with God, all the rest is fellowship. This may sound strange to some but I do have some scripture that I think shows this very premise.
We’ll start in Genesis. The story of Joseph is quite lengthy so let me just get to my point. Joseph, after a series of hardships and mistreatment, finds himself the second in command in Egypt. He is in charge of everything in a man named Potiphar’s house. One day Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph but he refuses her advances. I want you to notice the basis on which he does this though. He tells her Potiphar “has given him charge over everything he owns, and he has not withheld anything from me except you his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” Wow! Did you catch that? Joseph’s first thought was that sleeping with his bosses wife would be a sin against God. While this is true it seems to me most people might say it would be a sin against Potiphar, but Joseph understands he is in a relationship with God and that is what is most important to him.
In 1 Samuel 8 the Children of Israel are crying out to Samuel for a king like all the other nations. God tells Samuel “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” Samuel had an opportunity here to feel rejected, but God reassured him he wasn’t the one they were rejecting but he himself. How many times have you felt as though someone didn’t want you around or want to hear what you had to say? Could it be that it is really God they are rejecting?
Moving on into the New Testament we find several instances where Jesus identified 100% with his followers. In Luke 10 he said, “The one who listens to you listens to me, and the one who rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me rejects the One who sent me.” In Mathew 25 we find out Jesus takes it very personally how we treat those less fortunate. Jesus tells us the basis on which the nations will be judged. He says, “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.” The question was then asked “when did we see you like this.” Jesus answered them, “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” When we care for followers of Christ we are in fact caring for Christ himself.
My last example is The Apostle Paul and he wasn’t always the nicest guy. Here in chapter 9 of Acts he was still known as Saul, and he was on his way to lock up and persecute Christians when he had an encounter with the resurrected Christ. Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus identified with his followers very closely and in fact they (we) are his body. When someone mistreats a member of Christ’s body he takes it very personally.
So what I discovered in all of this is everyone in our lives, and our fellowship with them, affects our one and only true relationship we have with God. He is to be the one that is first and foremost in our thoughts when we make decisions in dealing with temptations, rejection and whether others receive us or not. Our attitudes and reactions to others, and theirs to us, are really at root just an expression of how we view our relationship with God. When it comes down to it, while there may be plenty of people in our lives, we really do only have one relationship. I heard it said that we live our lives for an audience of one. If we could just see it this way a revolutionary change would take place in us and those around us.
Written by Louie