By Amy Nardozzi, Anglicans for Life Summer ’19 Intern
Hi! My name is Amy and I am going to be a senior at a Christian college in Western Pennsylvania. I grew up as a Christian, and in high school especially the importance of who Jesus is and who He made me to be was instilled in my heart and mind. Since then, I have been passionate about sharing this with my friends, family, and high schoolers (I’ve had the privilege of leading YoungLife for the last three years!).
As Christians, we are called into relationship; relationships with family, friends, believers, and most importantly Jesus Christ. God made us social beings with the intent that fellowship would reflect who He is to us, and fill us with love and joy. But, it can do none of these things if Jesus is not our primary and most important relationship.
The reality is, human beings are flawed and we will fail – not just in what we do, but in how we treat each other. We will let each other down, even if we do not intend to! When the whole of our faith is put into our earthly relationships we will constantly be wanting more and facing disappointment. But, when our faith is primarily put into our relationship with Christ, we meet human relationships with joy and fulfillment, because we have already been fulfilled by the One True King.
When reflecting on how this plays out in my life, I remembered an instance when I let down a good friend of mine recently. We go to college together, and so during the summer we are living at home in different states. We were texting one day and she said ‘let’s just FaceTime- it’s so much easier!’ I made an excuse saying I couldn’t because of some reason or another, but the real reason was that I just didn’t want to. My friend had extended an invitation to me to truly be able to catch up after weeks away, and I had declined because of my selfish desires. I knew that she would be disappointed, yet I did it anyway. While this is certainly not grave disappointment, it is an example of the daily way we as humans fail those around us.
When we prioritize our relationship with God above our earthly ones, we derive our meaning and purpose from Him. We are not consumed with impressing others, or living up to their standards and expectations from us. Instead we are living into the abundant life that has been promised in John 10:10.
Jesus Himself is an example of who He created us to be. He proved this when He was on earth- He gathered people to Himself with people to partner with Him in His ministry. These people surrounded and encouraged Him- but they also failed him, denied Him, and even completely betrayed Him. Jesus certainly did not rely on His earthly relationships for fulfillment or identity, because His source of purpose was from God, His Father. We see countless examples of Him retreating away to pray and talk to His Father, because this was who He depended on and found His identity in. He called Himself the Son of God because that is who He is and how He is fulfilled.
The Trinity also proves the relational mandate from God. God Himself is in relationship with Himself through the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all exist as One, but also three separate people. God has been in relationship since the beginning of time, and He desires the same thing for us.
A relationship with Jesus Christ is not a one-sided walk- it is a two-sided affair like our earthly relationships. Jesus has already proven Himself to us by becoming fully man to walk a perfect life, yet die for our sins on the cross so that we may be reunited forever in heaven. He is not in relationship with us because He must or feels obligation. He is in relationship with us because He loves and delights in us.
The God of everything delights in US! What?! That is a blessing beyond all measure. And on our end, we should delight in Him and spending time with Him! This looks like frequent personal devotional time, prayer, and worship. Just as Jesus does not find obligation to be in relationship with us, we should not feel obligated to be in relationship with Him! It is something that we should freely choose because it is good for us. One of the ways that it is good for us (there are many!) is that this good relationship with the Lord then seeps into our earthly relationships with others.
When our relationship with the Lord is vibrant and active, then our other relationships can flourish in a Godly way. Jesus will never let us down, never cancel on us, and His Word will always comfort and advise us on the path of the Godly. This takes the expectation and pressure of perfection off of ourselves (and our friends/family), and we realize that we do not have to be the saving grace of others. We already have a saving grace. His name is Jesus Christ.
Our earthly relationships thrive when they are placed under God because we do not have the expectation of fulfillment from them. We simply have the mutual joy and love of each other to share. We also have learning and growing to do from each other. King Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs “iron sharpens iron.” We are to be encouraged and strengthened through our Christian friendships. These are people who are in a position to dispense God’s truth to us. They will challenge us to be Godly in our thoughts, words, and actions. And likewise, we are also charged to encourage others in their Christian walks. We are ‘iron,’ in the words of Solomon, and we must be constantly sharpening each other as warriors for Christ.
I have realized that this concept of relying on God, not others, specifically applicable in dating relationships. Woman and men alike find themselves in relationships in which the other person is the most important thing in their life, and thus the purpose of their life. As we discussed earlier, human beings are flawed and will fail. This is not just limited to friendship! Your significant other will fail you, potentially to the point of no longer being together. What do you do then, when you suddenly lose what is most important to you? When God is the most important aspect of your life, you can lose your significant other without losing your purpose or meaning in life. It is a hard transition no matter what, but when your identity is one as a Child of God, the core of you is not shaken by the breakup.
When your relationship with God is the center of your life, you are then opened up to having a healthy relationship with your significant other (this is not to say that you will not have hardships, or even break up). Your life meaning is no longer placed on them, and vice versa, which relieves both individuals from the pressure to be everything for each other. There are certainly expectations that will still exist, and standards of Godliness that do need to be met, but your worth will be found in Jesus, not the other person. And in this, you can be partners in ministry and furthering the Kingdom of God, working towards a common goal.
I think it is also helpful to touch on singleness and your relationship with God. Often in society, we are told (through words and actions), that a goal of our lives should be to find a lifelong significant partner. And this is certainly celebrated as good in the eyes of the Lord, but it is NOT celebrated as a life goal in the Bible. In fact, Paul holds singleness above marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. So, being a single person without a relationship and identity rooted in God, leaves one longing for more, thinking the lifestyle they have is ‘not good enough.’ BUT when your primary relationship is in Christ, you are constantly fulfilled through Him. You know that you do not need another person to be truly happy. You can embrace the Godly relationships that you are given, but know that they are not the end all, be all of who you were created to be. You were created to be in relationship with Jesus Christ!
All of this being said, I know that it is not easy. I am 21, single, never having dated, and it’s hard to be content in that! It’s hard to seeing people around you dating, but its also such a sweet realization when you realize that Jesus will fulfill who He made you to be! The season of singleness provides great opportunity for personal growth in your relationship with the Lord and those around you. Do not take this time for granted- take advantage of this season that He has gifted to you! On the other hand, I have friends who are in relationships, and they struggle too. It is not always easy to prioritize your relationship with Jesus over your one with your significant other. Each stage of life has its own unique hardships and struggles, but we also have a God who has promised to be with us- take Him up on that promise and rely on Him always!
We were not created to be isolated- we were created to be in community with others! Jesus Himself is the prime example of this, on earth and in heaven. Human beings are fallen creatures, and this means that we will fail others and be failed by others. But, we have been given the ultimate relationship in Jesus Christ. We will be ultimately fulfilled perfectly by Him and not our flawed human relationships, when He is prioritized in our lives. When those pressures are taken off of our earthly relationships, they are able to flourish and grow as God intended.
Amy is a senior Biblical and Religious Studies & Communication Studies double major at Grove City College from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This summer she is interning with Anglicans for Life. Some of her favorite things are playing games with her friends, traveling, and thrift store shopping. She loves to share the truth of the Gospel with high schoolers, and is especially passionate about Slippery Rock, PA, where she leads YoungLife with an incredible team. Godly relationships with family, mentors, and friends have shaped her and continue to grow her into the women of God she desires to be. You can follow Amy’s journey by following her on Instagram (@amynardozzi) – she’d love to hear from you!