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 at 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 avoid 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 and transform the most hardened souls.

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 had a great time in 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 them everything.

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 entered Jericho and was passing through it. Now a man named Zacchaeus was there; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to get a look at Jesus, but being a short man he could not see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, because I must stay at your house today.” So he came down quickly and welcomed Jesus joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all complained, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I now give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times as much!” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he too is a son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1–10 NET)

Jesus-Centered Friendships

Despite our painful experiences, we all continue to thirst for relationships.  This is because we have been created for relationships.  

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NET)

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. That is, not trying to get love but rather giving 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.

“One another” is two words in English, but it’s only one word in Greek: ἀλλήλων (ah-LAY-loan). It is used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give instructions to the church, and 60% of those instructions come from Paul. (4)

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 ourselves (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 do not 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, 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 is more than their words of 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)

Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 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 who 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

(4) Jeffrey Kranz,

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.