Teaching Series
Jesus Manifesto
Thursday—Getting Relationships in Order

Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Relationships in Order
Preacher: Tony Hunter
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Colossians 3:18-4:1 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: Following Jesus, knowing Jesus, and accepting Jesus changes the way we interact with each other, and only for the better.

Allowing Jesus to transform us really does change us for the better. There is a difference between a fair acknowledgement of something and an engagement with it. It is the difference between curiosity and commitment. There is nothing wrong with either of these; actually we need more of both of them. We need curiosity before commitment, and we need commitment at times to follow curiosity. With Jesus, our relationship deserves to grow beyond curiosity to commitment, and with commitment there is a deeper appreciation of the intent Jesus has for us which is always good. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., in his book The God-Shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transforms Us, proposes that there are in fact seven stages of development leading us to understand what is right and wrong. (This is based on Lawrence Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development.)  

  1. Reward and punishment 

  2. Marketplace exchange 

  3. Social conformity 

  4. Law and order

  5. Love for others 

  6. Principle-based living 

  7. Understanding friend of God

Level Seven based on John 15:15 and a broader approach to the whole Bible. It is a call for us to live a life beyond ourselves, a life that actively seeks to serve others, a life that is not selfish but that brings joy to those around us, both those who love us and those who do not. It is a life that recognizes God as the source of transformation in every human life. As I read through all the seven stages and their descriptions, I could see my own life in each of them. We fluctuate between levels at times, reverting back to some and leaping across others, but only Jesus can take us to a space of seeing God as our friend. Only when you see God as your friend will you be able to understand the passage today and see what He was inspiring Paul to share—back then and today. 

Recalibrate: What is something new you have discovered in the last three months that changed your outlook on life? 

Respond: Thank Jesus for teaching you something new every day.

Research: Read The God-Shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transforms Us by Timothy R. Jennings. 

Remember: “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ICB).

Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.

With your child, show them how to make a love heart using your hands. Look through your hand heart and say what you can see. I can see the windows. I can see the trees. I can see you. Looking at the world through the eyes of love changes how we see things. It changes how our hands do things, how our words are spoken, and where our thoughts go. Let love rule in everything you do and with everyone you meet. Three simple words can change the world. Let them be who you are. Jesus did and He asks you to do the same.

Have you ever had a handful of slime and squeezed it? It just oozes everywhere! Imagine that your heart is full of love and that when you are squeezed, teased, pushed or pulled what came out was love. When I was a kid, when someone teased me I teased them back. Even worse, I let my hands speak instead of my words and I would hit them hard so they didn’t tease me again. Jesus doesn't play like that. Ask Jesus to fill your heart with love. When you feel like pushing or pulling or teasing someone else remember what Paul encourages us to do. The Words to Remember for this week are, “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ICB).

Payback. Doesn’t that seem like the kind of word you say with a scowl on your face? It’s hard not to think of payback without thinking about revenge against someone who hurt you. Revenge is messy and we’re called not to deal in revenge, but in forgiveness. These things are not even closely related, and often revenge seems so much more satisfying than forgiveness is. But think of it this way:

When someone hurts you, more often than not, the person who hurt you does not go on to think much about what they did. Usually, they forget all about it and move on to something else. But for you, sometimes all you can think about is the pain they caused you. You think about it all the time and allow the thoughts of anger and embarrassment to keep you up at night. It stresses you out in the hallways of your school all week. When we think about revenge, we usually think it’s justified because the person did all this damage to us. But really, all they did was set us off in a bad direction, and our imagination allowed for them to keep hurting us. And they just kept living life as usual. 

Ultimately, forgiveness allows for our imagination to stop running wild with our pain in focus. Once we forgive someone, we let go of all of that pain and ready ourselves to move on. It’s only when we stop thinking about payback, and focus on forgiveness that we stop spinning in circles. In the moment when we decide to forgive, we are letting go of the thing that has been keeping us awake at night. Sure, it still hurts and we don’t forget what happened to us, but we let go of the need to think only about the pain. And then we stop letting the person who hurt us control our emotions. 

Paul says in Colossians 3:25 that in the end “the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done.” So we don’t need to spend another moment thinking about payback because God already has that part covered. It’s our job to avoid becoming someone who causes someone else to want to pay us back for doing wrong to them because we were hurt by someone else. It’s a call to break the cycle of pain we cause each other by placing our trust in God to take care of us by taking care of those who hurt us.

What are some things in your life that are still hurting you? Is your anger and desire for payback doing anything to fix the problem? Who might you need to forgive in order to let that pain and anger go? If you suddenly weren’t carrying the weight of that anger, what else might you have the freedom to do with your time, thoughts, and actions? What is keeping you from forgiving them right now?

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. . . . Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 3:22, 26). I think that this also applies to employee/employer relationships today. You are to do the best job you can do for the one in authority with integrity and sincerity. And those in authority as well are to treat those that are under them with the same integrity and sincerity, knowing God will always be above them if not other people too.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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