Relationships Last Longer Than Associations.

“Peter said to Him, “Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus declared, “this very night before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter replied, “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You.” And all the other disciples said the same thing.” (Matthew 26:33-35)

“At that he began to curse and swear to them, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:74-75)

Everyone wants to be associated with the strong or the ones who seem to be strong. Only a handful would want to be associated with the weak. No one wants to be found or known as associated with a criminal.

About a decade ago, a pastor in our community was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to serve time. When the church was asked about the pastor, no one came forward to give any positive testimony of the pastor, following his many years of service. All that was told was that he was there for a number of years, other than that they didn’t know anything about him. You could call it ducking possible prosecution for accessory charges to the church, just as Peter was ducking the charge of being an associate of Jesus.

Association can cause some to turn a blind eye toward the evils of their associates. Association can cause some to not say anything at all toward the lies of their associates because they’re experiencing conflicts of interest.

In the church, that’s one of the reasons that church members often turn blind eyes toward the bad doctrines of their leaders simply because it’s their leaders. In doing so, they unintentionally allow their leaders to hurt more with false hopes and false understanding of who God is.

I’ve seen leaders portraying themselves to be strong, but as soon as their weaknesses surface others quickly seek to disassociate themselves.

Naturally what happens is that for as long as one seems to be strong despite the unveiled weakness, many will stick around to secure their interests and still seek reaping from the so-called strength. Or, if the weakness seems to outweigh the so-called strength, the natural man will flee, fearing for his own life, his own reputation.

What should be done then? People should stand their ground and address the weaknesses and grow.

Peter would die for Jesus for as long as Jesus was fighting next to him. But if someone as strong as Jesus could seemingly be captured, then Peter would naturally do what every man would do. Every man for himself.

It might be helpful to seek and question whether what we have with others are relationships or associations.

How do we tell the difference between the two?

In an association, the members are in it for as long as the sun is shining and the sky is clear. In a relationship, the members are in in for better or worst.

As Christians, what we ought to have with others are to be relationships and not associations.

Christ didn’t come to use us. Neither, did he come to be used by us. He came to be a brother to each and every one of us.

So when Peter denied Christ, he was rejecting his association, he was rejecting his investment in Christ for it seems like all of his shares in Christ have suddenly plummeted down to zero in value at the sight of Christ’s capture. Not only zero, but his own life was now at stake.

When we acknowledge our connection with others to be based on strategies, then it’s just a matter of time before those strategies no longer apply and that our connection weakens and disappear altogether.

But when we acknowledge our connection with others to be through Christ, then for as long as Christ loves us and for as long as God loves Christ and God loves us equally, we remain connected.

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Because of the blood of Christ shed for the whole world including us, we’re bound together by the love of God.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)

And because of the Spirit who has given birth to each and everyone of us believing in Christ, we are bound as a family.

“when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)

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