"You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31).
The other day, we talked about the first of five factors that influence your identity. We have all been made wonderfully complex and full of flaws, and until we embrace who we are — including our flaws — we cannot make the changes in our lives that will bring about true transformation.
Your connections are the second factor that influences your identity. Your connections give your life purpose, meaning and identity. If you grew up with dysfunctional relationships, then you question your purpose and struggle with identity.
In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus said that the most important things we should do are to love God and to love other people. Life is not about your accomplishments or acquisitions, your popularity or prestige. It's about how well you love.
There are three problems that keep us from loving fully as God intended:
1. We're all imperfect. There are no perfect relationships because there are no perfect people.
2. Sin disconnects us. Adam and Eve had the first broken relationship and disconnected themselves from God and from each other. We've been excusing ourselves and accusing the people we love ever since.
3. The more disconnected we are, the more fearful we become. We crave intimacy, but we fear vulnerability. We crave acceptance, but we fear rejection.
You are a product of your relationships. Study after study shows that our identity is largely determined by what we think the most important people in our lives think of us. That's why you should make sure that Jesus is the most important person in your life, because He will love you unconditionally.
We all have different connections: some healthy, some broken. It's important to have healthy connections because they play such a large role in determining your identity. People with healthy relationships don't have to ask, "Does my life matter?"
You may not have had any say in the hand you were dealt in life. But God sent his Son as your Savior to transform your "cards" into a winning hand. No matter what connections you've made in life, whether good or bad, you will be held responsible for what you do with your connections today.
Will you let God affect your connections? Will you trust Him for your future in spite of a difficult past? Will you nurture, protect and build relationships so that God is more fully glorified in your life?
Resolve today to build healthy relationships with God's help.
Tomorrow we'll look at both the third and fourth factors that influence our identity: circumstances and consciousness.
Talk It Over
- How do you let God affect your connections and relationships?
- If you trust God for your future in spite of a difficult past, what would that look like?
- How can you nurture, protect and build relationships so that God is more fully glorified in your life?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.
This article originally appeared at pastorrick.com.
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