Week 1: Life in an Relational World
Relationships can be frustrating at times. And, let’s be honest, our relationships with families, cultures and peer groups can be the source of all kinds of pressures that induce anxiety.
But God designed us to be part of groups and families, and to build a circle of care we can ask to be with us when we experienced both good times and bad.
In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus gets into a boat with his soon-to-be-disciples as he teaches a crowd. When he’s finished teaching, he turns to these men, who’d been fishing all night with no luck, and tells them, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”
They obey, and to their amazement their catch was so huge their nets were splitting! So they signaled for partners in another boat to come and help them.
When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell on his knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!”
Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.
Here’s the main point for us: Jesus’ response to Simon Peter was reassurance and reconnection.
First, Simon Peter and the disciples were overwhelmed by the catch they had to get help. This was a preview of how Jesus would do his ministry and how one day the church would work together.
Second, when Simon Peter bowed down to Jesus, he was suddenly aware of his own faults and sins, especially being around someone so powerful, and so obviously sent from God. So he tried to push Jesus away! But Jesus wouldn’t let him push him away. Instead, Jesus’ response was to reassure him (“Don’t be afraid!”) and point forward to this community that will one day be called the Church. He reassured him, and throughout his ministry Jesus would be reconnecting him with a new circle of people.
During his time on earth, Jesus rarely traveled alone. Besides when he went off to be alone, Jesus always had at least a few disciples with him, and often had a group of women followers with them, too. Jesus was forming a circle of people who would support each other even long after Jesus was gone.
We are designed to be relational people. This is one reason why the pandemic hits us so hard! When we’re hit with anxiety and depression, we tend to push people away. But we can’t fight those feelings alone. Even though relationships are hard work sometimes—and sometimes we do need to walk away from a toxic relationship—we were designed to be our most whole when we are connecting with God and journeying with others.
To stay connected when we feel like pulling away from people, we need to:
Look Up. Pause in the midst of our anxious thoughts to look up and seek God’s friendship through the Bible and by talking with others who are walking in faith.
Look Inside. Reflect on where God is at work inside us.
Look Around. Take a good look at our own anxious world so that we deepen the relationships that help us navigate it.
Sit down and have a conversation with someone in your family or an adult who’s like family. Look around and ask yourself: Who in my family seems to handle pressure well, or does a good job of communicating and connecting with others? What could I learn from that person? Try to get some time with them and ask them a few questions about how they’ve learned to navigate stress or build strong relationships.