Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration and comments.
O.K. The true ultimate love triangle is the Holy Trinity. But be honest, if I had called this post “A Pretty Important Love Triangle” would you have kept reading?
Entering into a walk with Christ is necessarily entering into community with his followers. It’s part of the deal–it’s in the contract. It is a non-negotiable as far as He is concerned. And so, an important love triangle is formed between you, me and Him. It is a love triangle that is designed to change me (and you). This change process is a life-long process. The more “in touch” I become with this process and the more I subject myself to it, the more I change. Some call this process “Spiritual Formation”. Others call it “Spiritual Transformation”. Whatever you call it, it involves you, me, God and our influences on each other.
In His most detailed discussion of Christian accountability and how this change process takes place in the life of a believer (Matthew 18–the entire chapter) Christ takes advantage of a “teachable moment” in the lives of the disciples to help them begin to grasp what His “church” was going to look like and how it was going to operate. In that lesson, Jesus discusses several critical “steps” to the process of holding one another accountable, steps that you have probably read about and studied for yourself. We can discuss those very practical elements to this topic in other future posts. For now, let’s just focus on the very first point of that lesson (Matthew 18:1-4).
Being a part of God’s kingdom requires that you change and become childlike. It requires that you enter into relationships with other believers and become vulnerable to them, just like a child is vulnerable to the community where he/she lives. Like that child, you must love when it makes no sense to love, have faith when it makes no sense to have faith, and be vulnerable even when it may result in your getting hurt. This is the essence of becoming like a child. Jesus makes it clear: if you are not willing to change and become like this child, you cannot be a part of what He is building.
And so, this “love triangle” between you, me and God becomes a critical part of my changing and becoming like a child. I learn to use this triangle to grow me and to make me better. I learn to subject myself to both God and to you and your influences in my life. Jesus provides harsh warnings to you about how you exercise those influences (see verse 6–another future post discussion), but even if you exercise them poorly, it doesn’t excuse me from them. If I am truly growing and changing, I learn to pull you close to me and allow you to ask me hard questions about my walk with the Lord. Because that’s the way Christian community was designed to work.
The triangle has communication running in every direction. You talk to God about me (we call that intercession). You talk to me about God (we call that accountability). And we both learn to use this triangle to grow closer and closer to God…together.
This is Jesus’ starting point when he teaches about how we hold one another accountable. It should be our starting point as well. If I want to become the Christian God asks me to become, I cannot do it without you. I need the love triangle. Even when it hurts, I need it. It’s part of the deal.
© Blake Coffee
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