given on Human Relations Sunday, January 17, 2016:
Scripture base: Psalm 36, esp. v. 5-9, NLT
Get along with God. It sounds so simple, so why don’t we do it. Get along with God! Today is Human Relations Sunday according to the UMC calendar, but nationally it is also the weekend that is designated to honor Martin Luther King’s work in civil rights. Can you imagine what our world would be if everybody simply used “get along with God” as a guiding principle.
Accepting God in our lives and acknowledging that Christ was born, lived and died for us, we accept the responsibility to get along with God. God asks us to use grace each day to maintain loving human relationships, yet we continue to fail.
Each day we depend on God to guide us and to protect us. As Christians, God expects us to guide and to protect one another. God depends on us to be his representative in our communities. If we model God’s grace and unconditional love, we will get along with God as well as make a difference in our own world.
Consider the word ‘depend.’ Mental health practitioners analyze human relationships and see patterns of behaviors that are reactions to how people treat each other. As the world shrinks and boundaries blur, human relationships depend on unconditional love. A breakdown in a relationship can even lead to a diagnosis of codependency:
of or relating to a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, as to alcohol or gambling, and the other person is psychologically dependent on the first in an unhealthy way. [Accessed on January 14, 2016 at dictionary.reference.com.]
Sadly codependency becomes a systemic cancer as it leads to repetitive behaviors between generations and also has a magnetic quality as codependents gravitate to one another.
Following God’s law, offering grace and loving one another unconditionally can prevent codependency. Relationships based on the non-judgmental, unconditional love God demonstrated through Christ’s ministry lead to an interdependent peaceful community within one’s own home, neighborhood, country and even globally.
How, then, do we live in a challenging world that seems filled with judgmental, hateful and faithless people? The Golden Rule may be ringing in our ears, but applying it can be difficult. Yet, God has provided the prescription and sent Jesus to demonstrate how to use this perfect form of love. All we need to do is get along with God by getting along with one another.
In Psalm 36, King David outlined the benefits of getting along with one another. We depend on God’s grace and love:
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights.
9 For you are the fountain of life,
the light by which we see.
Even in David’s ancient times, long before Jesus was born, the prescription for healthy human relations is explained:
Because I love Zion [God],
I will not keep still.
Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem,
I cannot remain silent.
I will not stop praying for her
until her righteousness shines like the dawn,
and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.
–Isaiah 62:1 (NLT)
Do not stop praying for her or him or for a country or a neighbor or a family member. Dependency on God will keep unhealthy relationships from developing and getting along with one another is also getting along with God.
Depending on God leads to healthy independence from the unhealthy human relations whether it is between family members, friends, neighbors, strangers, or even cultures. Turning over negative relationships to God through prayer frees us to develop our healthy relationships. So . . .
- Practice dependency on God. Turn the hurt over to God in prayer.
- Practice independence from people who trigger negative behaviors.
- Practice interdependence with Christians who work together to share God’s love.
The outcome of a non-judgmental, faithful, and loving lifestyle is a world that radiates freedom. Getting along with one another is getting along with God.
This Sunday may be Human Relations Sunday, but every day should be. God created a world that was designed to meet our every need. He created us with free will, too, but we fail to use God’s law and a healthy relationship with him—we get along with God.
As we continue into this new year, remember to offer grace to others who may not yet know God’s grace and unconditional love. Each person you meet needs your unconditional love, too. Get along with one another.
When something gets your ire up, stop and think. How do you want to be treated? Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do not use cross words in reply, pray for God to guide you. When a driver cuts you off on the road, take a deep breath and cry out to God for help.
If you react negatively, others react negatively towards you. God will be missing in your life. God’s grace is your fuel, so use or offer grace in all your relationships with others. That is how you get along with God, but it is also the way you get along in a diverse world of believers and non-believers, too.
Today may just be 1/365th of an entire year, but in all your relations on each day of the year, practice God’s law. Let others see what dependence on God does in your life so they will find the blessing of God in their lives. Getting along with God makes getting along with others positive not negative. And the ultimate outcome is salvation and joining with others getting along with God throughout eternity.
Daily we are challenged by relationships
That hurt our feelings or even our bodies.
We struggle to offer grace to those who hurt us.
We struggle to love unconditionally when filled with pain.
Guide us to follow your son’s example.
Guide us to love one another
even when we do not love the behaviors.
Guide us to offer grace
even if others do not.
Guide us to get along.
Thank you for your grace and unconditional love.
Thank you for your son, Jesus Christ.
Thank you for the promise of everlasting life
When we get along with you, God. –Amen