Summary: It is time we take a serious look at building quality relationships – and there is no better resource than God who made us to be in relationship.

“Building Quality Relationships: With God – Imitating God”

Eph. 4:17-5:2

From the very beginning God said “It is not good for man to be alone.” Van Morris, in Being Lonely ‘Can Kill You’, says that data collected from 148 studies, involving more than 300,000 people, conducted over three decades, shows just how true God’s principle is. People who have no social life are 50 percent more likely to die early than those who are well connected. Those who socialize regularly with family and friends live an average of 3.7 years longer than those who lead isolated lives. The professor who led the research said friends and supportive people encourage us to “have better health practices, see a doctor, exercise more. They may also help you directly by making you feel you have something to live for…By having a secure relationship and feeling loved, people live much more secure, calm lives.” (1)

With that information in hand, it’s important to know another body of research. Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T. and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has spent the last 15 years studying how our "plugged-in lives" have changed who we are. She claims that all of our technological devices have produced a world in which we're always communicating but we're seldom having real conversations. This is part of her conclusion: “We are tempted to think that our little "sips" of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don't. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places …. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation... We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship.” (2)

It is time we take a serious look at building quality relationships – and there is no better resource than God who made us to be in relationship. So this morning we begin our current series from the book of Ephesians. Paul begins, in fact, with our relationship with God. He says that through Christ we have A NEW IDENTITY. (23-24) “You were taught…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” WE ARE DEARLY BELOVED CHILDREN (5:1) CREATED TO BE LIKE GOD. We have an honorable name; we come from great stock; we are the prime cut, premium grade people.

This is more than a legal relationship; it is a relationship of love. God is committed to us, for our good. Having just celebrated baptism, let me illustrate it this way. Mike and Allie, how much do you want for Noah? What’s his selling price? A thousand dollars? One hundred thousand? How about a million dollars? You say he’s not for sale? Why not? Are you looking forward to all the dirty diapers, sleepless nights, childhood diseases, trips to the doctor, and all the costs of raising him? Is it because he’s going to bring you fame and fortune? Of course not. It’s because he’s your son and therefore is worth more to you than all the world. His identity and worth are rooted in your love. So it is with us and God. We have no need to measure up or stock our resumes with good references to earn God’s love. OUR WORTH IS IN OUR DIVINE CHILDHOOD.

When Barb and I worked at Cran-Hill Ranch back in 1968, one of the guests who spoke to the campers one week was a former prostitute. She shared not only how she had fallen into that lifestyle, but how she tired of it as it gradually beat her down. She came to discover that her worth was not in giving herself away to others, or in earning love, but in resting in being a child of God. Through Jesus Christ she had come to claim her identity and recognize her inherent worth; now she was sharing not her body but Jesus.

I pray that you will recognize today that JESUS HAS CHANGED YOU. As The Message states these verses: “…take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Put off your old self and put on your new self. Think and act differently. BE WHO YOU ARE. Clayton’s mother was making plans for a party Clayton’s 4th birthday. When she told him he could have any kind of party he wanted he said, “I want a party where everybody there will be kings and queens.” So that was the theme of the party. His mother created golden paper crowns, royal blue crepe paper robes with gold lining, and scepters made from coat hangers and cardboard. Everyone who came to the party was either a king or a queen. They even had a procession up to the end of the block and back. They all acted like royalty and behaved wonderfully. That night, as his mother tucked him into bed, Clayton said, “I wish everyone in the whole world could be a king or queen – not just on my birthday, but every day.” We are, in fact royalty. We are beloved children created to be like God; heaven has come down and filled our souls.

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