Authentic Relationships: Introduction

People are longing to rediscover true community.  We have had enough of loneliness, independence, and competition – Jean Vanier (2)

However, isolation exists even in our explosive electronic communication age:

  • We work alongside people we don’t enjoy.
  • We live next door to others we don’t know.
  • We gather in worship services feeling like another face in the crowd.
  • We have no one to share our hurts.
  • We learned in grade school how fickle relationships can be.
  • As adults, we experience the pain of gossip and betrayal.
  • Church congregations are often worse on relationships than the world – filled with cliques.
  • We help others, but no one helps us.
  • We end up holding everyone at arm’s length to keep from being hurt.
  • We start to look out for number one (3)(4).

Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships are not created by sitting together in the same building or participating in the same activities.  Healthy relationships are created by capturing Jesus’ heart for life-changing relationships.  Jesus demonstrated that the simplest acts of love and friendship could reach the most hardened souls and transform them.

The Levels of Relationships:

Level One: Acquaintance

  • This is when you know another person because of proximity.
  • The conversation typically stays on safe topics (e.g., weather, work, economy, home repairs, lawn care, children’s performance, etc.) with low emotional disclosure.

Level Two: Companionship

  • Like the Three Musketeers, a fraternity of men who trusted each other to do the task set before them.
  • While they never discussed their vulnerabilities or emotional struggles, they did have a great time going into battle together!

Level Three: Established Friendship (Brothers and Sisters in Christ)

  • Established Friendships are relationships where the real you is known by another person.
  • Not only does this person feel free to tell you everything, but you also can tell everything to them.

The Lunch that Rocked Zacchaeus’s World

Jesus chose to have lunch in the home of someone considered despicable by the crowd – a tax collector!  Zacchaeus was a man who spent his life looking out for himself. Jesus is the God/Man who spent His life on Earth looking out for His Father’s glory – doing His Father’s Work. Jesus’ selfless motives melted the heart of Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:1-10)

Jesus-Centered Friendships

Despite our painful experiences, we all continue to thirst for relationships.  This is because we have been created for relationships (Genesis 2:18).  Men and women have many acquaintances yet few real friends.  We do not know how to make them or enjoy them.  We can only escape this trap by living the Jesus way – selflessly. Not trying to get love but rather give it!

One Anothering

Jesus did not spend His Earthly ministry talking about how to have church.  Jesus spent His Earthly ministry living “Church.” He spent His time building intimate relationships with those He met.  He turned the world upside down through God-centered friendships with believers and those still trapped in the world.  His disciples did the same thing in the early church.  They did not see themselves as an institution. They saw themselves as a Family.  The church was not something they attended.  The church was a way of living in relationships with the Father and His other children.  The world marveled and was transformed by their selfless love.

The “One Another’s of Scripture that will be explored in this series:

  • Loving one another (John 13:34)
  • Forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Accepting one another (Romans 15:7)
  • Bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
  • Honoring one another above our selves (Romans 12:10)
  • Greeting one another (2 Corinthians 13:12)
  • Being hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Being kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Sharing with one another (Hebrews 13:16)
  • Serving one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Carrying one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Building up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Encouraging one another daily (Hebrews 3:13)
  • Comforting one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Stimulating one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Instructing one another (Romans 15:14)
  • Admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Praying for one another (James 5:16)
  • Confessing your sins to one another (James 5:16)
  • Being of the same mind toward one another (Romans 12:16)
  • Submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21)

A Life Focused on Others

Other focused people take an interest in you just because they care.  They are not tied to their own needs and desires in the relationship.  Their care demands nothing in return and rejoices to see you blessed.  They open their life like a book and let you read it freely.  They do not hide their thoughts and feelings.  They make you feel safe enough, so you don’t have to pretend with them.  They offer free counsel but never demand that you follow it.  They give you the freedom to disagree and the flexibility to do things differently without compromising their love for you.  They give you the shirt off their back without a thought when you are in need.  However, they do not always give you what you want.  They look past your faults and celebrate your promise and help you get there.  When they say they will pray for you – they do.  They are by your side in the darkest moments, and their presence more than their words comfort.  Such friends find their origin in God’s heart.  No one can love so freely whom God has not first loved deeply.  Discover the power of His love, and you will never be lonely again.


People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered….Love them anyway!

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives…. Be kind anyway!

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies…. Succeed anyway!

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow…. Be good anyway!

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable…. Be honest and frank anyway!

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight…. Build anyway!

People need help but may attack you if you try to help them…. Help them anyway!

In the final analysis, it is between you and God…. It was never between you and them anyway.

Authentic Relationships Series:

(Security, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)

(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) Founder of L’Arche, an international ecumenical organization that creates communities with people that have learning disabilities.

(3) This blog adapted from Authentic Relationships: Discover the lost art of “One Anothering” by Wayne Jacobsen ( and Clay Jacobsen. ISBN-13: 978-0801064517

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home. 

One Comment

  • MatthewC

    An Authentic God

    I like the description you used for good relationships: authentic.  They are not false or merely copied from somewhere else, but genuine and real.  Authentic relationships begin with authentic people.  And yet, authentic people begin with authentic relationships as well.  It is something caught and taught, not inherited.

    Parents and family can help us on that path or set up barriers.  Usually, it is a bit of both.  They can only give what they have.  Often, they are not so bad as they are limited.  They are fallen, but they are also *human*.

    This is where God comes in.  Authenticity begins with him.  "I am that I am."  He is the only completely self-reliant, self-initiating, self-directing being.  He is *real* and *genuine* without qualification.

    Even more amazing is that God has in himself authentic relationship: Trinity.  He *is* loving community.  In that sense, the revelation that "God is love" in Christianity is so remarkable.  He is not merely *loving* toward people, but also can be called them – the persons of the Trinity – loving each other.

    As "heady" as all this is, it provides the only safe starting point for authentic relationships.  Without first being included in the loving community of Trinity through Jesus, we will find loving each other impossible.  We will be drawn to other people in order to use or idolize them.  Even our marriages need a focal point other than just the other person – a mediator, if you will.

    Biblically, we see this played out in the qualifiers to the "one another" passages:  "Love one another *as I have loved you*",  "Submit to one another *out of reverence for Christ*", ans so on.  The reason and motivation for our love is a relationship with God.  It fuels and informs all of our relationships.

    Because of our love for God is the reason, if our relationships are not authentic, then it reflects back on our relationship with God.  "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us" is not so much of a threat as a fact.  As we live in the forgiveness of God, so we learn how to forgive each other.  Conversely, if we do not live with a forgiving God, we will not find ourselves particularly forgiving toward other people.

    How we conceive of God affects our relationship with other people.  So much so that we can find our relationships with others as an indicator of how we are relating to God.  We start with those closest and often dearest, our neighbors, that is, the one who is "nigh" or near.  These relationships will inevitably give us a picture of how we are relating to God.

    We become grounded in what is most real, genuine, and true by entering a relationship with Jesus, the doorway to the Trinity.  Authenticity is then caught and taught.  Such authenticity then begins to flavor our relationships, like salt.  It begins to shine out of our words and deeds, like light.

    Confession, encouragement, service, true community worship, mutual guidance and other practices start off with practice, but then begin to naturally occur in our relationships with others because we want what is best for them, we actually love them.  Our "left hand does not know what our right hand is doing" because they have become thoroughly ingrained in our character instead of just practiced for religious purposes.

    Then we are authentic.  Then we can be authentic with others.  Then authentic relationships become possible.