all about relationships?

Recently I was watching a video presentation done by another Christian community, and noticed the emphasis on relationships. They said that Jesus' work was about reconciliation, restoring broken relationships, so that should be our focus too. I suppose that makes sense. They also mentioned a theme common in intentional communities, that our communities should be visible evidence of the kingdom of God, the community of God on earth. An implication of that is that our relationships in community are then seen as evidence of our faithfulness. That might be reassuring if relationships happen to be doing well, but otherwise, as is often the case...

I also recently spent some time with a friend going through a divorce. He didn't want to divorce, but that's not a decision he can make by himself. His situation really highlighted for me the nature of "relationship." It's not just something we can choose or do. It depends also on the choices and actions of the other people involved. And, actually, it's dependent on many other factors as well, like personality, gender, age, culture, "chemistry," and more. All of these play in to the quality of relationship that we can have with another person. From what I can see, a relationship is not something that we can create. I know we can work to improve our relationships in certain ways, but so many other crucial factors play into it, so that good relationships now seem to me more like a gift of God than something we accomplish.

In the truest sense of "reconciliation," too, it seems to me that the restoration of right relationship, real connection, with others and with God, is something we can only receive as God's gift.

And since a relationship is not something that any of us can make or choose (because it doesn't just depend on us), then this isn't the best evidence of faithfulness. As far as I can tell, Jesus didn't call us to "have good relationships." Jesus called us to love one another. That's an important distinction. No matter what the other person chooses, we can always choose to love them. And if we are not granted the makings of a deep, intimate relationship with someone, we can still love them in the ways that are granted to us. Even if the relationship we've had with another person seems to be falling apart, we can always love them. And that's all Jesus asks us to do.

Love one another, believing that, in love, we discover the deepest relationship with all others who love.