We have a problem in our relationships. If you’re single, you’ve likely struggled with this problem. If you’re married, I could show you how you have the same issue. When it comes to relational intelligence, we stink. I’ve mentioned several reasons for this in previous posts using K-I-S-S-I-N-G as a doorway for discussion. My most recent post (of a similar name) pointed out that our married relational problems oftentimes stem from our pre-married relational conduct. In other words, once you’re married, you’re playing like you practiced.
Last time, we looked at the first of three aspects of living as brothers and sisters. Authority had to do with the playbook; the rulebook. It’s a fair question: how do you know when you’re doing it right?
Should you kiss? How do you know?
Should you stop your hands at hers or are her other parts within the limit? How do you know?
Should you open up your hopes and dreams to him even though you only recently met? How do you know?
What are the answers to the “how do you know?” questions? This is authority’s question. Many would say, “whatever both people agree on.” That’s the standard answer, I’d agree. What if the two parties don’t agree? Who is right? Does she win or does he? How do you arbitrate? Most often I think the answer lingers at “whatever I feel comfortable with.” Our “default” setting is me. What if “me” is not right?
If I choose the wrong authority, and, therefore, the wrong standards, then at least two people are in for some trouble. Also last time, I asserted that many Christians default to this standard and in so doing basically claim that the Bible has nothing to say to us. That’s a serious issue as well: what else are we willing to say is outside of the reach of the Bible?
Why do we do this? Christian, why do you turn away from the Bible’s guidance in your relationships?
Audience. I think it has to do with audience. Now, how you answer these questions of authority reflect your intended audience. What I mean is “who are you trying to please?” You know what I mean by this. Have you ever done a job for a co-worker or a friend and done something similar for a boss or authority figure? Isn’t there a slight (or more) up-tick in quality for the latter rather than the former? Especially when bonuses are at stake?
Who are they? The audiences, I mean. For whom do you do what you do? It’s pretty simple, actually. Whoever sits on your heart’s throne – who’s opinion matters most to you – is your audience. Whatever rule book he (she) uses, you use. We do all things for a reason and that reason is always a person. Who’s the person? Who are the choices? There’s “me,” and “God.” That’s it. In other words, you do what you do either for your own good, glory and gain or for God’s.
This is seen in many places:
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17)
The Two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:37-40)
The Royal Law (James 2:8)
The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Only-Love-Matters (Galatians 5:6)
The Act-Like Men (1 Corinthians 16:14).
In these passages we are repeatedly directed first to God and then to others; never to ourselves. There are only three personal actors in the universe and it is strange that never are we told to act only for our own good. But we are regularly (repeatedly) told to act for God’s and for others.
In the Bible in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul tells us that we should live in such a way (by faith: 5:7) as Christ is pleased (5:9), “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him [Christ].” Christians know what this is like – but we all do, really. We all live for whoever or whatever is most important to us – our treasure drives our heart (Matthew 6:21).
Christians would say that Christ is our audience. I would believe any Christian (at first) who made this claim. But the issue is not so simple (says Jeremiah). Let’s backtrack a little: say you are in a relationship with a girl (guy). Whoever is involved competes for the title “audience.” By that I mean the one who sits on the heart’s throne. If you’re trying to impress her, you’ll do whatever she wants because you want her to think much of you (you’re the audience). Her approval, affection, attentiveness – whatever – is what you long for, so you’ll shape your behavior so that you’ll get what you want.
The other way to do this relationship is that God would be the audience. It would be for His pleasure, for the good of His church, according to His plan and His rules. This foundational commitment is found in places like 1 Corinthians 10:31 or Colossians 3:23.
How do you know for which audience you are living? What rules are you using? Audience starts with authority, but you already knew that.