Us: made to need someone to love
The God-given desire to have someone to love is one of the deepest we have—it’s also an area of great vulnerability for us. There are good – and broken – ways to satisfy these longings. Where we go searching makes all the difference.
The man was happy to see me and we had a conversation (mostly mimed) about the bike and what we were doing. Eventually I showed him my camera and asked if I could take a photograph of the jars spread along the roof of his car. My new friend hesitated, not sure what I was asking. When I tried again, he looked very uncomfortable and shook his head. As he did so he pointed to his ears and spread them forward self-consciously. He didn’t want his big, floppy ears in a photograph. I packed my camera away and got back onto the bike.
As I rode off I thought about this old man, one of hundreds of people we’d passed by and who would remain there for many more days, selling his jars of honey and think he was too ugly for a stranger’s photograph.
Life is full of people living with broken relationships – relationships with themselves, with others, with God. Here’s something the writers of Genesis wanted to tell us about this…
Read Genesis 2v18-25. As you do that see if you can pick up any clues about why relationships are so important to people.
When we asked a bunch of teenagers what they wanted most for their lives the top three responses were about relationships: relationships with God, with ourselves, with someone special, and with other friends. In many ways that’s not a very suprising result – God created us to be relational people.
In this part of the Story God has created Adam – the man formed from the dust – to be God’s image bearer in the world. Adam has been doing the work God gave him – using his authority to name the living things God has created. There’s a deep significance in having the power to name something. Names create and reflect the nature and identity of the thing being named. To name something is to have authority over it. And God goes along with what Adam decides to call these creatures. God trusts Adam’s judgement – that relationship is in a good place.
But there’s something missing. Adam can name the animals but can’t really relate to them – at least not in the way he was made for. And so God creates another kind of human being to be an intimate companion. They are naked and without shame – there is nothing to hide or lie about. Their relationship is all about intimacy and honesty and trust.
And at the end of the chapter in Genesis 1:31 the writer tells us that God looks on the scene and it’s not just good, but very good.
Remember Genesis was never intended to be a historical account of how exactly an eagle became ‘Eagle’ or how a man’s rib became a woman. That wasn’t what the writer was interested in telling us. The purpose of this story is to paint a picture of who God is, who we are, and how we’ve been designed to really enjoy life. We were made to live in relationship with people—and for those relationships to be in a good place and to have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. The ancient Hebrews called that ‘Shalom’.
Is it any wonder then, that life seems so wrong, so disrupted, when a relationship, even just one, is in a bad place?
Relationships can be the source of our greatest joys and deepest pain. That kinda makes sense doesn’t it—when you remember that we are made to be God-like—and God is in essence, a relationship.
Because the desire to ‘have someone to love’ is one of the deepest we have—it’s also the greatest area of vulnerability for us. We don’t always go looking to meet this need in God or in healthy committed, loving, mutually humble relationships
Think back to the last few ads you saw on TV or heard on the radio—how many of them were about buying something to make yourself more attractive to someone else? A lot of things that young people struggle with are there because they try and meet this desire in broken places.
It’s that image we encountered in the previous session of someone dying of thirst in the desert digging frantically for water but ignoring the great big oasis next to her. God tells us in Jeremiah 2v13 that’s why we get things so wrong.
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
I think that’s what’s going on with the person who rebounds from one short dating relationship to another in desperate need of someone to really love; the person addicted to porn because it offers an easy and controllable way to experience some kind of intimacy (without the commitment and challenge of a real relationship); the person who has felt rejected by too many people and now isolates themselves; the person who gives into peer pressure because they are so afraid of being rejected by their friends …
These and other struggles find space in our lives because we lose sight of how we’ve been made and how those good desires for intimacy and friendship can be met – genuinely and richly.
Download a PDF version of this session here
Imagine you’re watching a few Vines on Instagram of your life as it is right now … In these clips you are with all of the people you see regularly during the week or who are close to you. Which relationships bring you joy and happiness? Which ones are difficult? Who do you love? Who you are avoiding? If you had one wish for any of your relationships what it be?
Get the conversation started …
Get everyone to check out the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them in the next tab.)
o Is there a post that stands out for you? Why so?
o Is there something in a post that raises a question for you? What is that?
o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend, which one would it be?
Read the post in The Story tab. Here are some videos we linked in:
Think back to the relationships you pictured at the beginning of this session. Has anything you’ve heard today helped you understand them better?
Some questions to help you replay your story …
o What do you think about the idea that the deep desires we have to be intimate with someone are part of the way God created us – and that they are good desires?
o What would the right ways to meet those desires look like for you?
o In which ways are you tempted to go looking for intimacy in broken places? o Is there any role that God might play in the way you form and conduct your friendships and relationships?
Re – draw your picture of Jesus
If you have time read the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus meets a woman who is a serial wife (5 husbands and counting …) and who clearly has relationship issues. They meet at a well which takes us right back to the image of the oasis in Jeremiah 2v13.
I love how Jesus never condemns this broken person but offers her the real thing instead. Here’s what Jesus says: ‘If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water … Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.’
What would ‘living water’ look like for you? How could that bring new life not only to your relationship with God but also your relationship with friends, boy/girlfriend etc?
o Does this change or challenge your view of who Jesus is and what he is like?
o How do you think Jesus feels towards you right now?
What practical action, response,or new way of thinking do you need to take into the week?
What things in your life are like the broken wells that don’t hold any real hope of satisfying your desire for intimacy and relationship with others? What would it take to recognise what they are, let go of them and start looking for the right kinds of things? Jesus invites us to repent often and with freedom. It’s a real gift from God – go for it! Spend a few minutes imagining what your life would be like if more of your relationships—with God, with yourself, with others—had more of the peace—Shalom—that God intended them to have? What might need to change in you in order to move closer to that?
From the WordSpace
Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:
I remember watching a sci-fi movie where alien beings could read each other’s thoughts and communicate without speaking. I was terrified! What if people could see the ungodly things that sometimes go through my mind: the anger, the pride, the lust, the greed?
The woman at the well in John 4 must have been astounded when a complete stranger described her history of failed intimate relationships. Awkward moment of note
Your secrets aren’t secret to God. He loves you, the whole you, the broken you. His body was broken so you could be made whole. Jesus invites us out of the things that tie us up, and into the joy of living free and openly with Him. Will you accept the invitation?
Read the story in John 4 here: http://bit.ly/17pO5jW
Jesus, those bodies on the screen are so beautiful – so much more lovely than mine. And the sex I’m watching calls so deeply to the desires I have inside. Surely these feelings can’t be that bad? Didn’t you create this body to want intimacy?
You did. And I think I know that you want me to enjoy deep intimacy born of a real relationship, not the love-faking I’m so tempted to watch on my phone.
Help me see this temptation for what it is: a cheap substitute for the sacrifice and deep joy of true, committed, selfless love. Fill me with your mercy and grace. Help me leave this broken shortcut to real intimacy behind.
Read 1 Corinthians 13v4-13 here: http://bit.ly/11CMRKo
Is there someone you used to be good friends with but something happened and now things are all awkward or even really messed up?
Bastille’s song Bad Blood echoes the hurt that kind of break up can cause:
‘All this bad blood here, won’t you let it dry? / It’s been cold for years, won’t you let it lie?
If we’re only ever looking back / We will drive ourselves insane / As the friendship goes resentment grows / We will walk our different ways’ (listen here: http://bit.ly/1piwsfT )
Jesus’ command to forgive and not let resentment grow may be hard – but living with broken relationships is harder.
Is it time to let the warmth in on a cold relationship?
Read 1 Corinthians 13v4-7 here: http://bit.ly/1aOyzRs
Kodaline have a great song called ‘All I Want’.
Their lyrics (and their music video – http://bit.ly/1thkZ0i ) speak of a deep longing to connect with someone special – and how hard that can be when physical appearance or the stupid things we can say or do get in the way and mess up relationships.
‘All I want is / And all I need is / To find somebody / I’ll find somebody like you’
God desires our relationships to be made right – so that our deep longings can be met. All those laws in the Old Testament were part of that relationship rescue plan.
Will you allow the Spirit to get you in shape for better relationships?
Read Jeremiah 31v31-34 here: http://bit.ly/1bBIwjq
I’m not sure God has a big Kingdom plan in place aimed at securing you a girl/boy-friend. The plan God told us about is this: ‘Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matthew 6v33) My take on it is that God is more interested in you being the right person.
So don’t wait until you are in a relationship to start learning how to be in relationship. Grow strong friendships and trust that as you become ‘the one’ someone at the right time might take notice. And if not, then still you would have taken hold of the most important thing.
Read Matthew 6 here: http://bit.ly/WyKmKY