As you approach Christmas Day, ask yourself this question – “How many broken relationships do I have?” Unfortunately, for some, “broken relationships” are what best describe their past and present. They are out of sorts with someone from the church, for example, so they refuse to speak, look or come anywhere near that person. They could list for you three or four people that bug them, ruffle their feathers, irritate their space…!
If it’s not in the church, then family represents an area where a “burning wreck” of some sort is still smouldering. Christmas may be somewhat awkward because coming together means being in the same room with “so and so!” Some make Christmas plans that ensure avoiding the person altogether. If there is a chance encounter, it is as brief as possible.
If it’s not family then it’s the work place or some other context of relationships where someone exists that “gets our goat”… “has a way of pushing our hot buttons”…”gets under our skin” (any other idioms…?)
Relationships are complex. And it’s true that, because of their shortcomings, some people make relationships a “d-word” experience for us - we are drained by them, dread thinking of being with them and are delighted when we are far from them (got another “d” word…?)
But if you think of it, as Christians, we should be setting the pace for healthy community. The message of Christmas is that we have a Saviour who came to deal with broken relationships. God knew that sin had broken the most important relationship of all and so He sent His Son Jesus –
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21, NIV)Sin created a barrier between a Holy God and broken humanity. God tore down that barrier of sin through the work of Christ on the cross. God restored what was broken, healed what was sick and made it possible for all humankind to get right with God. In other words, the Head of the Church, our Saviour and Lord, is central to the greatest reconciliation work in all of history.
Shouldn’t it then make sense that those of us who follow Christ, should be leading and modeling the way when it comes to living in healthy community? Doesn’t it make the slightest bit of sense that Christ followers should be taking the initiative in the restoration process when it comes to our relationships? Granted, we can do our part and still not have complete healing because of the other person’s choices. However, their refusal to make it right is no excuse for us to stockpile one more “un-relationship”. We must do what we can, and live out the Christ life, because following in the steps of Jesus means working at having healthy relationships with people, whoever they may be.
So what is “the big ask” this year? Maybe for you, it’s to make it right with that one person that gets your goat. After all, can’t you see the hypocrisy of us celebrating God’s reconciling work initiated at Christmas, while inside we harbour unhealthy relationships?
This Babe in a manger really did come to change the world. That change starts with each one of us!