The Difference of a Christ-Centered Relationship

Longview Retreat and the owners, Joe and Jane are passionate about relationships, especially the marriage relationship. Frequently you will hear us say, “put Jesus in the center of your relationship.” Why? What difference will that make? How do you do it? What does this look like?

 

The Short Answer Is Sin 

Sin comes from Hell and is the primary force of evil against us and every relationship we are in. The devil is all about destroying us and uses many different forms of sin to do it. Jesus is here to redeem and restore us, regardless of how far we have fallen. He wants us with Him; His life, death, and resurrection were for all. Not just that relative handful of humanity that existed the day He was crucified. By His death and resurrection, sin was defeated for all. For a long time, I believed I could deal with sin without Jesus. I was wrong.

 

I had a Jesus problem. I was not trusting Him for today. I was trying to do it on my own. I did not want to love others as He did. I did not want to do life, marriage, or any other relationship the way He told me to do it as recorded in the Bible. I was allowing my flesh to be in charge–I wouldn’t allow my spirit to follow Him and live His way. 

 

I enjoyed sin. We all do. That’s why we do it. There is always some amount of comfort or pleasure in it– that’s how it is. We get sucked into it, and before we realize it, we have accepted it as “who we are.” But that is a lie from hell! If your spouse seems more like a roommate than a gift from God, you probably have a Jesus problem. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, put Him in the center of your life, you will be able to break free from sin and the many ways it ruins your life!

 

You Get A Choice

It is black and white. There are only two teams in this game of life. And the amazing part is that we get to choose which side to be on. I was 35 before I switched teams and began my relationship with Jesus. 

 

I am a stubborn, hard-headed person. The enemy had me headed toward hell, and I didn’t recognize it. That’s scary! But God is merciful and patient. He never gives up on me or you either. He is always here with us.  

 

My Life Before Christ

As a teenager, I was a “good” person, but, it was all selfishly motivated. I was doing it for me and what I could get out of it. Even though I grew up in church, I didn’t know Jesus. I knew about Jesus. Hey, Satan himself knows about Jesus. Knowing about Him is a whole lot like that other team on the playground–you know who their best players are. What good does that do you?

 

So, that’s where I was when I got married to Jane — doing life my way, manipulating for what I wanted and not understanding why she didn’t think like me. Why does she get mad when I work late? I’m not playing golf. I was a workaholic. It was easier to be at work with what I did understand and have some control over than to be at home where my twisted ideas of how to be in relationship with a human being (pornography will do this to you) didn’t always go well. We wanted to love each other, but there was always an undercurrent of conflict.

 

Life started to fall apart financially. I was a self-employed cotton farmer, and it was not going well. I was barely profitable and could not support a growing family. Our six-year-old daughter had started cussing. That’s who we were. Good, solid, worldly people going through life as best we knew how. Trusting our friends for advice, who were like us–good, solid worldly people. And we were going to church–but for all the wrong reasons. We were the hypocrites that have given “church” such a bad name. Don’t hate on me– it’s the South; everybody goes to church in the South. As my grandmother used to say, “God hep us.”

 

The Change

I realized something had to change. I got saved when I was 35 and began my relationship with Him. One day I will meet Him face to face, and He will ask me something like “So, what did you do with the life I gave you?” We all will be asked whether we accepted Christ as our Savior one day. 

 

On that day, I want to thank Him for allowing me to be in heaven through the righteousness extended to me by my belief, acceptance, and love for Jesus, The Christ. I hope you do too. Our time on earth is only about preparing us for eternity. 

 

Godly Love

One definition of love is “a commitment to act in someone else’s best interest.” Jesus came to earth as a man to show us how to live and overcome the enemy attack we all are under. He showed us how to love. And it’s all written down! You can learn it. You don’t need to wait until you are 59 to get it. 

 

The enemy uses sin to derail our lives. Jesus came to tell us and show us how to respond to the enemy. The Bible is full of “one another” verses about how to treat each other and be in the relationship God’s way. 

 

Learn More About The Bible’s Messages for How We Treat One Another

 

Our flesh resists and does not want to be under Christ’s control. I’ve lived it. I tried to do it my way for too long. I was going one on one against Satan, and I didn’t realize it. And things were slipping. Only Jesus can deal with Satan. Only Jesus can deal with sin– that’s why you have to have Him in your life. That’s what His death on the cross was all about. It was the all-sufficient sacrifice for sin.  

 

Jesus In My Marriage

That same Jesus is now in my marriage. When life hits the fan, I know He is here. None of it surprises Him. Jane and I trust that come what may; He is in control. I don’t care what it is: kids, work, aging parents, or sin. 

When we agree to put Him at the center, there is peace even in the middle of a storm. 

It’s our choice. We keep our focus on Him and keep Him at the center of our marriage.

 

I am called to love my spouse with 1 Corinthians 13 love that sees the best in my spouse. Now I know I cannot do that on my own. I tried. For the first couple of decades of our marriage, I did not know Jesus, so I had no way to consistently overcome the things I did that hurt our relationship. 

 

When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, one of the first amazing discoveries for me was the realization of the power God gives to believers to live a life according to His way and plans. As a follower of Christ, now when I get ready to say or do something hurtful, I get a conviction within me that prompts me to respond in a better way. 

 

Do I follow that Holy Spirit nudge always? NO. I am learning and praying to ask God to increase my love for Him. The Word says, if I love Him, I will obey His commands. I will want to please God more and will respond in loving godliness to these nudges. I seek to do that increasingly in my marriage. It WORKS!!! God knows we will never be completely perfect until we reach Heaven. But I keep trying!

 

When my spouse and I both seek to let God’s power work through us to love and respect each other better, that is when marriage sings!!! We are sure that our marriage is much tighter, secure, and joyful with the power of the Holy Spirit available to us through Jesus, working in us, for the Glory of God!! We then bring delight to God, and we are blessed in our relationship. God knows what will be best for us. He has shown us over and over again, even when we doubted the way He was taking us. He is FAITHFUL, and we have learned that He is always working for our good.   

 

Making Jesus the center of your life, marriage, and relationships is your choice to make. He hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s us that move away from Him. If you are cold, move closer to the heater. The short answer is don’t do life alone; do it with Jesus. 

 

Make Jesus the Center of Your Relationship

Read through the Bible in a year, every year. Read different translations or “through the Bible in a year” translations. Maybe a chronological translation. Pay close attention to how Jesus, Paul, James, and others say how to live. 

 

Attend a church that preaches the Bible in a way you understand. I’ve been to some and always felt they were shooting over my head. When you hear a sermon, it should be encouraging or convicting. If it has no impact either you weren’t listening (it happens) or it wasn’t any good. If you can’t think back and remember something he said in one of his sermons; you might want to consider listening to somebody else’s sermons.

 

Pray every day, during the day when life is going on. Go to God for everything, in the moment. Pray by yourself or with your spouse. Jane and I will pray many times a day. If we get in an argument, we will pray. If we have a decision to make of some consequence, we will pray. If friends or family have something going on, we will pray. Prayer is like oil in an engine–it will keep everything working right. 

 

Hang out with Christians. You may lose some old friends, or maybe you will change your relationship with them. 

 

Use a daily devotional. The Holy Spirit will reveal much to you on your own. But reading what others have learned will get you where you need to be quicker. Read one for two or three years and add a new one. Read Christian books and magazines. Watch Christian movies. Make a conscious decision to separate yourself from worldly entertainment.  

 

Pursue Jesus. Get to know Him. Take stock of how you use your time and spend your money. Where is Jesus in this? Consider who you hang out with. Are they pointing you toward Christ or worldly things? What are you listening to, reading, or watching? Losing weight and being healthy requires effort on your part. Getting to know Jesus and being healthy spiritually will too. Believe and understand there is a battle for your soul and where it will spend eternity. 

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