From beginning to end the Bible is a book about relationships—how they can be revitalized and restored.
Nothing characterizes our modern age more than fractured, dysfunctional personal relationships. Indeed the initial breakdown started not long after the creation of human life itself. Adam and Eve became estranged from God; their elder son killed his brother, and such breakdowns continued from there right down to our modern age of disjointed human relations.
Britain's chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, describes the general state of our relationships. "Today many parts of Britain and America are marked by vandalism, violent crime and a loss of civility; by the breakdown of the family and the widespread neglect of children; by an erosion of trust and general loss of faith in the power of governments to cure some of our most deep-seated problems, and by a widespread sense that matters crucial to our future welfare are slipping beyond our control."
We don't trust each other anymore. Relationships have lost their permanence. Lifelong marriages have ceased to be the accepted norm. Lasting careers are disappearing. Not so long ago a person could expect to work for one corporation for 40 years and then retire with a company pension and perhaps a gold watch. No more. Young people can now expect to have to learn several trades in a lifetime, with the accompanying disruption to relationships, just to survive economically.
The diagnosis is simple. Relationships that work are based on common rules. When standards become vague and people cannot agree to accept and adhere to the same values, society goes awry. There have to be agreed-upon principles for human beings to follow. Otherwise we will continue to experience chaos in our relationships.
The Bible is the book about relationships. It emphasizes the most important relationship any human being can have—with God Himself! It shows how reconciliation with God leads to a right restoration of our relationships with other human beings—marriage partners, friends, fellow church members or fellow employees.
What is the nature of God's relationship with His Son Jesus Christ?
"The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand . . . For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does . . ." (John 3:35; John 5:20).
Many other scriptures show that Their relationship is one of love, harmony, cooperation and outgoing concern. Theirs is a perfect relationship!
Do the Father and Christ offer to extend Their own harmonious love to men and women made in the image of God?
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).
God the Father and Christ the Son extend Their love to men and women. But notice that Their love is based on adhering to eternal values and standards that originated with the Father. "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me" (John 14:24; compare 1 John 4:16-19; John 17:22-26).
The Father and the Son are fully united in the laws by which They govern humankind. Those laws show God's way of love and are given for the benefit of humankind (1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6; Deuteronomy 5:33). Those who oppose those laws of love bring untold suffering and misery upon themselves and others. Often these agonies are manifested in the form of broken, dysfunctional human relationships.
What else is offered, both now and forever, to those willing to follow the spiritual standards and values of Jesus Christ and the Father?
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23).
". . . As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
". . . But godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:8).
Salvation is freely offered to those who are called now and willing to repent of past misdeeds, becoming obedient to the Father (compare Acts 2:37-39). Note that repentance, water baptism and the laying on of hands are the specified biblical requirements for the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Having the Spirit of God is essential for salvation (compare Titus 3:4-7). Our free booklet The Road to Eternal Life explains these biblical doctrines in detail.
Should our relationships reflect the harmony between the Father and the Son
"And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also" (1 John 4:21).
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments" (1 John 5:2).
Love is governed and defined by eternal values coming forth from the very throne of God (1 John 2:3-7). The only real solution to our sad state of severed relationships is to repent and begin to keep God's Ten Commandments—which define true love toward God and neighbor—both in the letter and the spirit (compare James 2:8-12; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 3:10-11).
Right relationships with God and man will lead us to a greater understanding of the purpose of life.