Relationships would be fine if it weren’t for the crazy people we have to share them with. They look great in movies or in TV ads. If you stayed in front of the TV for the Super Bowl ads you’ll see some light-hearted views on relationships. The Jamaican guy from Minnesota urging everyone to be happy and join him for a ride in his new Volkswagen. On the screen relationships just seem to work.
But off the screen, they don’t seem quite as simple. Real spouses are a lot harder to deal with than the imaginary spouses we see on TV. Real kids aren’t quite as funny when they’re rebellious, and real parents don’t seem to appreciate the laugh-track that ought to be cued when they mouth off to Dad or Mom.
The fact is, relationships are a lot harder than they look. For every couple who celebrate a milestone anniversary, we all know many of them who never will because something in their marriage blew up, leaving casualties everywhere.
If the gospel of Jesus Christ means anything, it should bring some kind of change in these relationships. Something that scratches the itch a lot better than mere clichés about how Christians are supposed to be nice. In my experience, a lot of nice Christians have really painful relationships, too.
Here’s what I’m finding: deep inside each of our everyday relationships is a conviction that life ought to be fair. My family ought to understand me. My friends ought to be nice to me. People ought to wait their turn when I meet them at a four-way stop. And when people fail to be fair, that’s when the trouble begins.
But at the same time, the gospel of Christ seems to revel in unfairness, at least a certain kind of unfairness. That hill outside Jerusalem with the three crosses was the site of the greatest unfairness in the history of our broken world, where by his stripes we were healed. And everything I read in the Bible points towards the way that the staggering unfairness of that crucifixion really starts to screw up any of our ideas about unfairness. When you’ve seen that bloody cross and then peered into that empty tomb something deep inside you knows that things have to be different.
Including our relationships. How does that cross change how you look at difficult relationships in your life?