Intimacy and Identity!

identity-manGrowing up I based my identity on what I achieved not on whom I was in relationship with. Whether it be in the sporting arena, the police academy or in the early years of my ministry, I valued myself on how I performed rather than who Christ said I was.

We live in a culture that’s obsessed with accomplishment and image because western society works on a functional paradigm rather than a relational paradigm. A functional paradigm is task oriented and purpose driven. We function together and what little time we have left over we connect and often very surface level.

Living in this functional paradigm can lead to tension and frustration. When we make life about something other than what God intended it to be, chaos is the end result. God intended us to live from a relational paradigm first, a functional paradigm second.

The kingdom of God operates on a relational paradigm. When Jesus was tested as to what the greatest commandment in the law was, he pointed to a relational paradigm, not a functional one (Matt 22:34-40). He said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and… love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ God’s will is first relational, second functional. We get saved through a person, not a task. Jesus said, ‘I am the way’, not ‘This is the way’. Everything God teaches us about life begins and ends with relationship.

Our identity flows out of our intimacy. Jesus is so attractive because he’s so secure in his relationship with his Father. Before Jesus ever healed the sick, preached a sermon, raised the dead or cast out a demon, he had his Fathers approval over his life (Matthew 3). Father God said, ‘This is my son, in whom I’m well pleased.’

We don’t attract God’s presence through performance, we are already attractive to him and he calls us into deeper levels of relationship with him. Intimacy is not an event, it’s a lifestyle. Out of intimacy God shapes our identity and it’s through our identity, that God shapes our destiny. What we ultimately possess in life is determined by who we become.

The more rooted our identity in Christ is, the healthier our relationships will be. The vertical relationship with God precedes the horizontal relationship with others. If there is conflict in our relationships with others, its possibly because there’s conflict within our own identity.

Your identity is inextricably connected to your identity. What do you value yourself by, achievement or relationship?

The Oracle!

Spacial Relationships

Every relationship belongs in a space in our lives.

Problems arise when we allow someone to occupy a space they shouldn’t be in. I’ve observed that in leadership we can have inappropriate people too close to us and the appropriate people too far away from us.

God didn’t build us to have relational spaces for everyone.

We each have a limited amount of space in which to place people. Our spirit has infinite capacity to be with God but we have emotional limits when it comes to being with others.

Every country has controlled airspace above it. There are specific ‘no fly zones’ that if you violate you risk being attacked. You can’t just fly into a country’s air space. You need to ask for permission and for a commercial airline paying a fee is required.

Everyone of us need to take responsibility for our own ‘relational space’. There are some people that are ‘no fly zone’ people and there are others who are allies and there are others who are partners. Don’t turn your landing lights on for every passing relationship that enters into your life.

I wonder if you have ever been on a vacation with someone you got on well with over a meal but being on a vacation with them was another experience. You came away exhausted and wondering what just happened? Just because you get on well with someone in one space doesn’t mean they are suitable for other more private spaces of your life.

The key question before embarking on a relationship journey is, ‘Have I got space for you?’ Don’t drift into a relationship you have no room for. Think about where you will put this person in your life.

Proverbs 12:26 ‘A righteous man chooses his friends carefully.’

A classic biblical example of spacial relationships is Abraham and Lot. God called Abraham to go to the land He would show him but Abraham invited Lot along for the ride and it proved disastrous. Abraham’s family and Lots family had to eventually separate because the land could not sustain both of them. Abraham had to end up rescuing Lot from disaster. One episode after another occurred because Abraham invited Lot into a space, God never invited Lot into. It was only after Lot had separated from Abraham did God speak to him again about his call.

Heed the lesson.

Maybe there are some things God wants to say to you but he can’t until you reorder your relational space. You are responsible for your relational spaces. Don’t give your most important spaces to the wrong people and sideline the right people from your life.

Gods got a dot to dot plan of your relational world. Pay attention to the sign posts and build significant relationships with the people God wants in your relational space. This isn’t being arrogant, it’s being a wise steward of your relational spaces and emotional well being.