My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23
“Make you like me.” No matter “how you say it,” (or hear it) there’s a tension that exists in every relationship. In our attempt to construct a system where everyone gets along, there’s one desire that trumps every other concern. We want people to be like us and we want people to like us. What we’re searching for in the connections we pursue is either approval or conformity.
How can we achieve the unity and peace the world so desperately needs? In our minds, the solution is reasonably straightforward. If people were more like us, the world would be a more excellent place. So, we spend our time and energy attempting to get individuals to think and act like us.
On the flip side, there are those of us who are people pleasers. We yearn for affirmation and approval, and do everything in our power to get our hands on it. Our push for acceptance is not sustainable for our hearts as well as our relationships.
When we can’t make others like us, we work to diminish others and ultimately dismiss them. As a result, God’s vision for our relationships and the unity He desires for the church struggles to take root. Jesus understood how simple, yet at the same time incredibly complicated, our connections with others can be. The oneness of believers was such a part of His heart that it served as the focus of one of His final prayers.
God wired us for intimacy, but intimacy needs the safety of love. Love makes intimacy possible. We’re built to receive love as well as created to give it away. Love is a force that breathes value and worth into another. The exchange of love takes place in our relationships. Relationships are the framework through which love gets expressed and experienced. We love when we give ourselves away for the good of another. To be loved is receiving good for ourselves without trying to earn it.
The way we treat, care and love each other sends a message to the outside world. Our redemptive relationships should cause those around us to take notice. If this is the case, we have to get gut-level honest about our relationships and the job we are doing regarding living together. Intimacy requires awareness, both about ourselves and our connections. We can’t share if we aren’t aware.
We are loved only to the extent we are known. A connection with another person requires vulnerability and transparency. The first step in influencing our relationship is pausing and reflecting on how well others know us. Who has access to the real us? And, we need to take it a step further by considering how well we allow ourselves to be known.
- MAKE YOU LIKE ME. How do you hear this statement? When it comes to your connections with others, which one do you struggle with the most: wanting people to be like you or wanting people to like you?
God, open my eyes to what drives my relationships. Help me to see where I am putting my needs and my desires above everything else. Let my connections be a place where others are encouraged and where I am spurred on to reflect Your love. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.