How important are relationships with God and with each other? – Part 2
In the first part of this series, we looked at the relationship between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. In the second part, we will give an outline of biblical information to show just how important inter-personal relationships are with other human beings, and how bad relationships can be disastrous for everyone involved.
Relationships – Man’s interpersonal relationships with fellow man.
In Genesis 1:26, we read that God spoke about creating man who was to be made in His image with God’s end goal of reproducing Himself through man. As God is a Family, He wanted man to become part of His Family—to ultimately join Him in His Family as born-again immortal God beings. In Genesis 2:21-25, we read that a woman was made and that husband and wife, as well as their children, were to be a human family (compare Genesis 1:28). This was to be a physical pattern of the ultimate purpose of enlarging the God Family. However, Adam and Eve failed to obey God, and so there were conversations in chapter 3 where God spoke to Adam and his wife after they had eaten of the forbidden fruit and where, as a consequence, God expelled them from the Garden of Eden, thereby preventing them to eat from the Tree of Life and obtain God’s Holy Spirit and finally eternal life.
Since the dawn of civilisation, man’s relationship with fellow man has been a constant problem. Adam obeyed Eve in eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which he should not have done, and the first child born to Adam and Eve was Cain who killed his brother Abel, because Abel’s works were righteous, while Cain’s works were evil (1 John 3:12). As mankind multiplied, so did the problems, and it became so bad that Noah was instructed to build an ark and that those on board that ark would be the only ones who would survive the Flood, and that was after only 1,650 years after the creation of man.
Why would this be so?
In his booklet “Military Service and War,” Mr Herbert Armstrong wrote the following on pages 10 and 11:
“There are the two broad, general philosophies or WAYS OF LIFE.
“God’s WAY is the WAY of LOVE (which is outgoing concern)—of being God-centered , loving and obeying God ahead of all else—and loving fellow man (including enemies) as one’s self. It is the way that believes Jesus when He says it is more blessed to GIVE than to receive (Acts 20:35). It is THE WAY of cooperation, helping, sharing.
“SIN is THE WAY of vanity, self-love, self-centeredness, selfishness, greed, competition, grasping, taking, getting, accumulating, acquiring; and of jealousy, envy, malice, resentment, strife, hatred, murder. It is the OPPOSITE of God’s way. It is the way of WAR.
“In the SIN WAY OF LIFE, love of SELF is balanced by an equal hostility or lack of concern for others—although the ‘empirical self’ usually includes those one feels allied with—such as wife or husband, one’s club, team, group, or country. In GOD’S WAY, concern for others is in equal balance to love of self.
“These are the two OPPOSITE WAYS OF LIFE—opposite ATTITUDES of HEART. One is the way of righteousness, the other the way of SIN.
“God is LOVE. His whole character is that of LOVE and OUTGOING CONCERN. HE IS THE GIVER of every good and precious gift. In love for us humans, God GAVE His Son – gave His Law that it might go well with us! God desires to GIVE each of us His Holy Spirit, and eternal life!
“This gives you the broad, general PRINCIPLE of God’s LAW—the basis and foundation of the Government of God.
“The entire Law may be summed up in the one word, LOVE. It is love toward God, and love toward neighbor—the two great commandments. The first four of the Ten Commandments define, in principle, HOW to love God. The last six, love toward fellow man. These, in turn, are applied in principle to specific cases.
“Military service, bearing arms (for use against humans), killing, war, is directly contrary to God’s Law in principle! It is not THE WAY of giving, sharing, helping, serving… The one specific point of God’s basic Law concerning war is the sixth of the Ten Commandments, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
From these insightful observations, it becomes clear WHY we have had interpersonal relationship problems from the dawn of civilisation.
From the biblical record, there was rebellion and a self-centered attitude from the first family on earth right on to the time that Noah was given his commission. This was brought about by man’s behaviour, as we read in Genesis 6:5: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Adam and Eve took what was not theirs—they ate from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge—and at the time of Noah, “the sons of God” –descendants from Adam and Eve’s son Seth—“took wives for themselves” from “the daughters of men”—descendants of the evil Cain (compare Genesis 6:1-2). These women were idol worshippers and of a different race, and God did not approve of such a marriage. As Eve looked at the Tree of Knowledge and “saw” “that it was pleasant to the eyes” (Genesis 3:6), so the descendants of Seth “saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful” (Genesis 6:2). In both cases, their desire for what was forbidden led to sinful and evil conduct. (For more information, please read our Q&A, “Did angels have sexual intercourse with women and thereby produce giants?”).
After the Flood, man again went his own way, as we read in Genesis 11 about the Tower of Babel, when men disobeyed God by assembling at one place, rather than filling the earth (Genesis 9:1; 11:4). God intervened, as we read in Genesis 11:6-9: “And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”
So, God saw to it that they ultimately did what they were at first unwilling to do. God will always make sure that His plan is carried out.
As man was scattered all over the earth, again God and His Ways have generally been ignored with man’s governments holding sway and developing their own laws and ideas. Other gods were of man’s own making with the usual results. All of this occurred, of course, under the inspiration of Satan who has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
Then God chose Israel to be His nation and, although there were some good times and mainly bad times in their history, as both the houses of Israel and Judah did what was right in their own eyes, disobeying God, the Messiah came through the lineage of Judah—one of the 12 tribes of Israel (compare Hebrews 7:14; Matthew, chapter 1; and Revelation 5:5).
Jesus came to fulfil (fill to the full, expand) the Law of God (compare Matthew 5:17-20), and while the true Church of God has always maintained the knowledge of God’s Law, it has in these end times continued to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world as a witness, as Jesus Himself preached and emphasised that the Law of God must be kept.
Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). He is the same evil spirit, in serpent form, which lied to Eve and persuaded her to take of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which, as he claimed, God had selfishly withheld from them (see Genesis 3:1-7). This has been at the heart of all of the problems that man experiences with both himself and his fellow man.
(For more information on the two trees in the Garden of Eden, please read our free booklet, “Human Suffering, Why… and How Much Longer?,” and especially in this context, chapter 2, “The Two Trees.”).
Before we discuss in detail how we should, as Christians, react and behave, let us have a brief look at how people form their relationships in the first place, and why true and proper relationships are important. We read the following on the website of theologyofwork:
“Many people form their closest relationships when some kind of work—whether paid or not—provides a common purpose and goal. In turn, working relationships make it possible to create the vast, complex array of goods and services beyond the capacity of any individual to produce. Without relationships at work, there are no automobiles, no computers, no postal services, no legislatures, no stores, no schools, no hunting for game larger than one person can bring down. And without the intimate relationship between a man and a woman, there are no future people to do the work God gives. Our work and our community are thoroughly intertwined gifts from God. Together they provide the means for us to be fruitful and multiply in every sense of the words.”
(To be Continued)
Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link