Susan and I are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary tomorrow. She has been and continues to be the love of my life. Together we have traveled the globe telling the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. A close friend asked what were some of the things I have learned over the forty years. While there are several things, one of the most important things I have learned is that all of our relationships are on one of five different levels. The highest form of relationship should be our intimate and spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Paul the Apostle wrote to the Church at Rome, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. (adoption) And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:13-18
There are basically five levels of relationship in our lives. While we expect to be on certain levels with certain people, each of us determine the level we are on based on our commitment to the relationship. All relationships are on the following levels:
LEVEL ONE: Acquaintance.
This level does not require deep intimacy at all. A relationship on this level is one where you are not sharing your problems or personal stories. People who are on this level with you don’t know your likes and dislikes. Your communication style is surface. When you speak to an acquaintance, communication is short and usually about the mundane everyday happenings concerning life.
LEVEL TWO: Casual.
People who are on this level with you are a short step above being a mere acquaintance to you. We generally have casual relationships with the people we attend classes at college with, or sit near at weekend church services or see them once a week at the coffee shop or at work.
There may even be meaningful moments from time to time with such an individual. These relationships have their use and context, but they are not usually close, nor intimate. In such relationships people don’t hang out often and rarely become close friends.
LEVEL THREE: Close.
Close relationships are more personal and deeper especially when it comes to commitment. Most work related or extended family relationships no longer the close relationships they once did. Nor, do they usually require a close commitment.
In most ways, many people see themselves as “close” if they are friends on Facebook or Twitter. But close relationships should be more than being social media friends. Close relationships should be bonding, mutual and serious. Why? They require being in proximity to one another, both geographically and emotionally.
LEVEL FOUR: Committed.
Committed relationships are a step beyond close. They create a certain level of vulnerability. When people are in a committed relationship they do not exploit or expose the weaknesses or frailties of those they are committed to. Sadly, modern thinking has destroyed many a committed relationship. This is due to the exposing of personal or private details to others.
The people in a committed relationship should have the expectation that each party will keep any information—learned because of the relationship—in confidence (even if the relationship ends). This level of relationship requires trust. Why? Because when people are in a committed relationship they must trust one another. That trust cannot be violated because trust is the foundation of the commitment and love is the motivation.
Even if one person feels that their trust has been violated by the other, neither person exposes or exploits the other. When people “tell” what they have learned in previous committed relationships they hinder the development of future relationships. Why? Because if you will tell what you know about someone else, you will tell what you come to know in your present and future relationships.
LEVEL FIVE: Intimate and Spiritual.
The highest form of relationship is our spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is beyond close or committed. He lives within us. Therefore, this relationship is intimate. In other words, it is of the deepest nature. It requires consistent and close contact, warmth and a total commitment.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have chosen to dwell within us by the Spirit. For Jesus said in John 14:23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
As believers, we have received the Spirit of Adoption whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) Abba is an intimate Aramaic term for Pops, Dad or Daddy. The Spirit of Adoption is the Holy Spirit Who has proceeded from the Heavenly Father into us because of the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 15:26 KJV says, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing in this blog how the development of a consistent, close, warm and deep spiritual relationship brings blessing to the first four relationship levels and our relationship with God. I encourage you to read the Scriptures in Romans 8 and Galatians 3 and 4. Ask the Father to give you a spirit of insight and understanding so you can know Him (The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ) better and be able to better all of the relationships in your life.