You may not believe me but human beings are defined by their relationships more than anything else. Relationships tell us who we are, whose we are and what is expected of us. Our relationships define where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going. Throughout the Bible, it’s easy to see a few select people who are so clearly defined by their relationships. In Genesis 6, Noah was defined by who he wasn’t. In First Samuel 15, David was defined by who he’d replace. In John 18, Peter was defined by who he followed.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that relationships are how the world ultimately defines us. They say more about who we are than any biographical sketch or social profile. We can’t go anywhere without acknowledging who we are or whom we belong to. Those ideas matter more than we like to admit. In the real world, the company we keep is one of the most telling characteristics of who we truly are. To that point, when all is said and done, the only relationship that defines who we genuinely are is our relationship with God.
If we journey back to the Garden of Eden, we can see that mankind is special. Genesis 1 tells us we are the only creature made “in God’s image.” It might be hard to fathom, but we are God’s masterpiece. We’re the only thing in this world with inherent value. We’re the only creation Jesus was willing to die for. We’re the only creation in this world with whom God wants a relationship. We’re special. Being made in God’s image can’t be taken away because someone deems you unworthy.
It can’t be taken away because someone treats you with prejudice or a lack of decency. Your worth is not defined by them. It’s defined by God, and He says you’re special. You are worth all the effort it took to make this world. You are worth the sacrifice of His Son. You are worth the diligence it took to produce the Bible, and you are worth every event that has shaped His Will since the beginning of time. You are valuable because God says so. That relationship, that value defines you above everything else.
However, our relationship with God has to be defined on His terms, because He has ownership of our past, present and future. God is faithful to forgive a genuine heart, guide a willing servant and uphold the promises He makes to those who faithfully endure. We can trust in the one who does not change, cannot lie, whose “mercy is ever lasting” and whose “truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
Notice that over and over again, God has called those who trusted in Him “His children.” He loved the patriarchs of old like Noah and Job who endured, despite mounting pressure to give up. He was patient with the Israelites as they perfected being indifferent to the “God of their fathers.” Today, the trials of those who love Him find the same patience and forgiveness those first-century Christians found while studying at the feet of Paul, Timothy or Peter. God loves His children. He cares for them and values the relationship they share with Him on a daily basis more than any other relationship in this world.
So what does our relationship with God teach us about other, less divine acquaintances? Without any hesitation, our relationship with God should define how we perceive those who God brings into our lives. We should see the rest of the world as God does. The people we run across in every circumstance are also made in His image. They are also God’s masterpiece. They can also love Him, serve Him and live eternally with Him right alongside of us.
When we realize that everyone else can connect to God in the same deeply meaningful way we do, it should be easy to find reasons to deeply connect with them. Our appreciation of their soul and its well-being should encourage a relationship that is significant, selfless and sacrificial. A relationship defined by mutual appreciation of the One who made us is a relationship that will endure. In those instances, it will be a relationship devoid of all the stuff that makes our world unbearable and the people we run across insufferable.
When we realize we all possess the opportunity to be God’s children, we see hope in relationships. When we realize He has time for each of us, patience for each of us and genuinely loves us the same, we should find time to reciprocate that love in return. When we value people for who they are and not what they do for us, we begin to see them as God does. When that becomes our de facto way of thinking, our simple interactions will change and our deep connections will grow exponentially. When we know the people in our lives are meant to be loved, served and valued, we begin to see how God loves, serves and values us.
Right now, God is actively seeking a relationship with you that is life changing. He wants you to know you’re special. He wants you to know you’re made in His image. He wants you to know you’re the most valuable thing in this world to Him. He wants you to know Him because He knows you.
Relationships define us. Make sure the relationship that defines you best is the one you have with God. When that’s true of you, every other relationship will be blessed by God’s presence. If He’s a part of your life, then He’s also a part of your marriage, your friendships, your random encounters with strangers and every other relationship the world uses to define you. When He’s a part of who you are, the world knows who He is.