The very first subject that Jesus covered with his disciples was about relationships. He did not start with high theology or basic doctrine. That would come much later. He started with relationships like:
- A brother – someone close to you, a friend, family member. A brother that irritates to death.
- Someone of the other gender, even the person you are married to!
- A malicious person who has his knife in for you.
- The enemy who actively wants to see your demise.
Read Matthew 5:21-48
- Do honest introspection. Who comes to mind as the brother, the malicious person, the enemy with whom you have to deal at work or at home? Write down their names. It can even be someone as close as your husband, wife, father or mother.
- How does Jesus teach us to respond to those people? How did he demonstrate in his own life how to deal with people like that?
- How are you going to life out the upside down life of the Kingdom in your relationship with others?
- Difficult people can make your life hell and it is most often very difficult to work through toxic relationships and bad experiences with people close to us. But if you want to follow Jesus step by step just like the twelve, then this is the first hurdle you will have to get over. If you find it difficult, remember that the same theme will be repeated quite a few times in our journey through the gospel of Matthew. Jesus’ disciples found it difficult to handle relationships too and he had to revisit the same issues time and time again, helping them step by step to begin to think and act like him ..
Relationships often cut to the heart. Do not think it is enough to touch these issues quickly by running through one short session as quick as can. It is possible that you could park on this spot for a week or to, carefully thinking through the relationship issues, helping each other to begin to think like Jesus. This is where the combined wisdom and accountability of a group can help to persevere until there is a practical application in your life. If you are doing this on your own, you may have to find a trusted friend to talk these matters through.