In summary, the above discussion outlines man’s relatedness on three different levels: (1) man to God, in worship, fellowship and devotion; (2) man to fellow man, in love and respect; (3) and man to the lower creatures (animals and plants), in nurture, care and protection. These are God- given parameters of human relationship and He said they are “very good.”
Who spoiled the golden morning? In the beginning, human relationships were meant to be happy. No less than He who created human relatedness said that it was “very good”. However, that is not what we see in the world today. Many times, relationships are a bittersweet experience. After a short honeymoon, the bliss of togetherness begins to fade away.
Believe it or not, the root of brokenness in human relationships emanate from Paradise. Like geological faults that may run unseen for miles, they nevertheless continue to threaten our happiness with impending disaster.
When Earth’s first couple, at the instigation of the Evil One, disobeyed God’s command in the Garden, all of their levels of relationships became broken. Where before they eagerly anticipated “the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the evening wind,” they now “went to a secret place among the trees of the garden” to hide from Him. Genesis 3:8. Where before their hearts “beat as one,” they now pointed fingers at each other, mutually blaming themselves for the misfortune they were in (Genesis 3:13-14). Where before they had dominion over the earth, “the earth [was now] cursed . . . . Thorns and waste plants [came] up, and [by] . . . the hard work of [their] hands . . . [they got their] bread till [they went] back to the earth from which [they] were taken: for dust [they were] and to the dust [they would] go back.” Genesis 3:17-19.
The Evil One is still at work ruining human beings today. Recently, I had to wake my wife Beth up from a bad dream. She said she dreamt that the Devil was out to destroy me and that she was going after him.
Let me tell you though that it is not a bad dream but an absolute reality that the Evil One is out trying to destroy people today. The Apostle Peter counseled the early Christians, thus: “Be serious and keep watch; the Evil One, who is against you, goes about like a lion with open mouth in search of food; Do not give way to him but be strong in your faith, in the knowledge that your brothers who are in the world undergo the same troubles.” 1 Peter 1:8, 9.
It was the Apostle Paul who gave us an insight into the true dynamics of human conflicts today. He said that “our fight [should not be] against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens.” Ephesians 6:12. The context of this statement is the apostle’s counsel that Christians should love one another and have unity and harmony in the home, church and society. (See Ephesians 4, 5 and 6).
How are we to fight? When I was a little boy, I thought I could fight the Devil David-like one- on-one. I would go around the farm with my bolo, sling shot and iron ring-tipped rod, daring the Devil to show himself to me. In the seminary, I learned that the way to do it was to cling to “the old rugged cross.” When my wife was telling me about her dream, I told her to stop; we prayed and praised God for His loving care and protection over His loved ones. In his epistle to the Ephesian Christians (6:13-18), Apostle Paul delineated a seven-point strategy for fighting the powers that be of spiritual darkness. He told them to:
1. Be “clothed with the true word”.
2. “Put on the breastplate of righteousness”.
3. “Be ready with the good news of peace as shoes on your feet”.
4. Use “faith as a cover to keep off all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.”
5. “Take salvation for your head-dress”.
6. Have “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”.
7. Pray, “making requests at all times in the Spirit, and keeping watch, with strong purpose, in prayer for all the saints”.
Make no mistake about it. The Devil is a mad bull raging to destroy your birthright to a healthy, happy and wholesome life. On the other hand, Jesus Christ came to Earth to heal and restore man’s brokenness. Expounding on His mission, He declared: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me . . . to make well those who are broken-hearted; . . .” Luke 4: 18, 19.
The radical basis of human relationships. My 10th grade English and Literature teacher once said that there are three basic ways in which justice is meted out in society: savage, Mosaic and Christian. Savage justice is death for stealing a G-string. Mosaic is “an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.” Christian justice is focused on rehabilitation and restoration of the offending individual.
At one time when I recalled this idea, it dawned on me that there are three ways by which human beings base their relationship with one another – savage, Mosaic and Christian. Savage – acceptance by blood and birth; Mosaic — reciprocity necessitated by common needs; and Christian – “as I [Christ] have treated you.”
Here are a few applications of Christianity’s “treat others as I have treated you” motif (See Ephesians 5, 6):
“Husbands, have love for your wives, even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it.”
“Wives, be under the authority of your husbands, as of the Lord.”
“Fathers, do not make your children angry: but give them training in the teaching and fear of the Lord.”
“Children, do what is ordered by your fathers and mothers in the Lord: for this is right.”
“Servants, do what is ordered by those who are your natural masters, having respect and fear for them, with all your heart, as to Christ.”