The following post was written by Andrew Jacobson in 2014 as part of a discipleship blog series. We are revisiting these topics in our current sermon series and publishing his writings here with his permission.
We come now to the seventh element of our Discipleship Vision: Grace-Relating. In this area of discipleship we want everyone at First Free to seek to live in line with God’s truth and design for the various roles and relationships that He has placed us in and to relate to one another with God’s grace as He has related to us.
This is a very pivotal area of discipleship because our culture teaches many things that are in absolute contradiction to our aims here. What God has designed from the very beginning is being undermined all around. God’s design when He created mankind was that they would be ‘male and female.’ And not just male and female living apart from one another, but that they might come together in the covenant of marriage. The fruit of the covenant of marriage would be children to be raised in a godly manner. So God has designed these roles: man/woman, husband/wife, father/mother, and child so that we might function within them in a way that displays the Designer. Even more, connected to all these roles are various relationships: friendships, marriage, parenting, siblings, neighbor, co-worker, etc. All of us find ourselves in some role connected to some relationship, and in many cases, multiple ones. The question for us is, how can we know and follow God’s designs for these roles and relationships?
Thankfully, we are not left to wander along in the darkness. God has given us His Word that we might understand the divine design for the roles and relationships that He has created. Our goal at First Free is to point people to the Word and give practical teaching from the Word so that men will know what true biblical manhood is, women might know what true biblical womanhood is, couples might know what a God-honoring marriage is, and the same for all relationships.
At the heart of what we want to teach people about relationships is grace. In all our relationships we are to be channels of God’s grace to one another. Why? Because that is how God has related to us through Christ. The Gospel is our motivation and model for how to live in all our roles and relationships in life. Paul says as much in Colossians when he tells believers to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us. (Colossians 3:13).Paul gives the same instruction regarding marriage when he tells husbands and wives that marriage is to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Helping the people of First Free to become Grace Relaters is also an essential means of witnessing to a lost world. Jesus said that people will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13: 34). When we live according to God’s design we in a sense “let our good works shine” so that through them people are pointed to Christ (Matthew 5:14-16). We pray that God would cause us to learn, love, and live out His divine design for our roles and relationships so that the world might see something compellingly different in the Church.