We all have had relationships that have failed. There are many reasons for why relationships fail, but I imagine most of them fail when they become routine. Early in a relationship, there is a huge amount of energy and excitement that comes from getting to know someone. Everything is fresh and you are learning and experiencing new things with someone you enjoy being with. Going out to dinner that first time, the conversation and the laughs just come naturally. But what happens the third time you go out to eat, the tenth time, the twentieth time? The newness wears off, the excitement may not be there, the routine sets in, and eventually it just feels normal.
I imagine, this is why Jesus needed to give us new commands about our relationships. The original Ten Commandments had been followed for hundreds of years. They were part of tradition, a list of rules that were to be followed. But lists have a tendency to be ignored after time. Have you ever been to a public swimming pool? Every pool that I have been at has a list of about eight rules of pool safety posted on a wall near the water. The first couple of times, I probably read them. I must have, because I can probably recite most of them. But now, when I go swimming, I don’t even look at them or think about them, and because I don’t think about them, I may not follow all of those rules when I’m swimming. I know I’m guilty of running beside the pool on more than one occasion.
The new commands that Jesus gave us were less of a list and more about how we choose to live our lives. When we act in a loving way, it will require something different every day. Just the emotion of love can become routine, but acting to show love stays fresh. It requires us to be constantly looking for new ways to show love.
As Tom Holladay points out in The Relationship Principles of Jesus, this sounds like an impossible task. But, Tom reminds us that with each command, God also give us a promise to help us fulfill that command. When Jesus approached his disciples’ boat on the Sea of Galilee that stormy night, he didn’t tell Peter to walk out to him just so Peter could sink. He was telling Peter that if he ignored his own doubts and trusted his faith, he could do it. Just as Peter was able to step out of his boat, we too can take the step to continuously act in a loving way in our relationships. We just need to trust God and ask for the strength to do it.
Day 11 - Feelings Are Important