Safe Relationships

The other day after the shootings in:

Gilroy, California – Garlic Festival

El Paso, Texas – Walmart

Dayton, Ohio – downtown restaurant area

The Pope in Rome, Italy issued a statement saying in part… 

That he was “spiritually close” to those who were grieving and then he led the multitude listening to him in St. Peter’s Square in a recital of the “Hail Mary” for the victims

“Spiritually close” 

In a time of tragedy and loss a person wants someone who is physically close to be with them

Someone they know well, trust completely, and who is physically and emotionally there for them

A “safe person” with whom they have a real relationship

I read a survey the other day… found in a magazine called “Outreach”

Qualities non-Christians value in a person with whom they would talk about faith

62% – Listens without judgment

50% Does not force a conclusion

43% Allows others to draw their own conclusions

33% Confident in sharing their own perspective

29% Demonstrates interest in other people’s story or life

27% Good at asking relevant and personal questions

20% Focused on the details of questions

20% Aware of the inconsistencies in their won perspective 

18% Knows the story of the person they are sharing their faith with

15% Exhibits a vibrant faith of their own

15% Willing to debate (discuss) issues

13% Focused on the emotions behind the questions the non-believer is asking

Again, I thought, this would almost always need to be a “safe person” with whom they have a decent personal relationship…

So, it got me thinking about the whole idea of having a safe relationship with someone who has proven themselves over time to be a person that you can always count on

You trust them, respect them, and they are there for you

Not “spiritually close” like the Pope but really there for you 

Everyone needs a “safe person” in their life… believer and non-believer need a ‘safe person’ 

A decent, personal relationship with a safe person

A safe relationship where they are treated with respect and dignity

I personally have come to appreciate having a “safe relationship”

One that I have spent years developing and growing with one person 

I have a friend – that is a powerful word in my life with deep meaning and it is not a word I throw around and use lightly

We have been working at building a solid and powerful personal, in-depth relationship now for over a decade. 

A relationship that is beneficial to both of us and enables us to be simply and seriously ourselves when around each other. 

He is what I call a “safe relationship” 

He understands what it means to listen, to care, to engage with what I am sharing. 

He accepts me as I am for who I am. 

He is helping me be everything God created me to be. 

And, everything I share is kept in strictest confidence and never shared with others. 

He is a safe person.

A safe relationship is one that does three things:

1> Draws us closer to God

2> Draws us closer to others 

3> Helps us become the real person that God created us to be

These are the three keys in a “safe relationship”

A relationship between two believers

A relationship between you as a believer and a non-believers 

In my life – a number of relationships that are on-going with young men (leaders, apostles, prophets) that I am mentoring in various nations

I am a “safe person” for them … a safe relationship

The Bible refers to these three key goals as areas of spiritual growth. 

Matthew 22:37-39 “‘Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you.’ This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.” (The Passion Translation)

Three key areas of growth for the believer… 

We fulfill the greatest commandment, to love God (Matthew 22:37-38). 

We keep the second command, to love each other (Matthew 22:39). 

And we grow into the particular person that God created us to be, accomplishing the tasks He has designed for us – first learning who we are and then loving this person (Mathew 22:39; Ephesians 2:10).

These three key areas can only come happen when we are in a “safe relationship”

So, to fulfill the commands of Scripture – The Greatest Commandment and the Great Commandment you and I need to be in safe relationships

By survey, when asked to describe a safe person, people gave the following descriptions:

    • A person who accepts me just as I am
    • A person who loves me no matter how I am being or what I do
    • A person whose influence develops my ability to love and be responsible
    • Someone who helps release love and good works within me
    • Someone who gives me the opportunity to grow and helps me in the growth process
    • Someone who helps me to know myself and love the “me” that I am discovering
    • Someone I can be myself around 
    • Someone who encourages me to release the real person in me for others to see
    • Someone who allows me to be on the outside what I am on the inside
    • Someone who helps me to become the me that God intended
    • Someone whose life touches mine and leaves me better for it
    • Someone who touches my life and draws me closer to who God created me to be
    • Someone who helps me be more like Christ
    • Someone who helps me to discover the real me hidden and buried under so much of life
    • Someone who helps me to love myself and then to love others more

Deep inside – we all want and need people in our lives that help us in these ways. 

God created us to need other people to enable us to reach maturity and fulfill our purpose on the earth

But, the issue is that these people that we need must be safe people…

And, the problem is: 

How do we recognize them? 

What do they look like?

Where can we find them?

Spend a few minutes engaging in conversation with someone at a decent level and you will quickly realize that everyone struggles with building decent and healthy relationships

And that there are many different sides to the “safe relationship” issue. 

Some do not even think we need relationships with other people. 

They think the Lord is enough and that you should only trust in Him. 

Just Jesus and me!

Others think that they must depend only on themselves. 

That too is a receipt for disaster and a shallow life

Still others believe that the Bible teaches the value of relationships, but then they find themselves in hurtful relationships over and over again. 

They pick hurtful friends, spouses, churches, work partners, spiritual leaders, and dating relationships. 

They seem to not have the ability to find and like safe people. 

Having a seemingly astounding talent for finding people that will ultimately hurt them, they repeat patterns over and over again, and then become discouraged about relationships in general.

So, to help people to utilize safe relationships, we need to understand what a safe person is and why we need that kind of safety.

The best example of a safe person is found in Jesus. 

This is the best place to start in understanding what a ‘safe person’ is and what character traits they should exhibit in their lives before we commit to building relationally with them

Remember the three things a safe relationship will help you with in your life journey…

A safe relationship is one that does three things:

1> Draws us closer to God

2> Draws us closer to others 

3> Helps us become the real person that God created us to be

Jesus does these three things in our lives…

Let’s express them in a different way … 

In Him – in Jesus – were found the three qualities of a safe person: 

Dwelling 

Grace

Truth 

As John wrote: “The Word became flesh and lived for awhile among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Here we see the three key qualities of a safe person…

    • Dwelling
    • Grace
    • Truth

Dwelling … Dwelling refers to someone’s ability to connect with us. 

The Greek word here in John’s Gospel means to ‘encamp’ or ‘reside.’

It says that the origins of that word have to do with the human body as the place where the spirit resides. 

So, Jesus did not just declare His “spiritual closeness” like the Pope

He became one of us – embraced us, engaged with us, lived with us

Jesus became present as a man, a person, in the flesh. 

A safe person then is able to “dwell with us in the flesh.” 

They are able to connect in a way that we know they are present with us, that they are for us, and that they will continue to walk with us regardless of what happens. 

They are engaged in the details of our life. 

They embrace your life with you and do not walk with a sense of detached attachment. 

They are there for you. 

Grace … The second safe quality that Jesus exemplifies is grace.

Grace is “unmerited favour.” It means that someone is on our side, that they are ‘for us’ even when we really don’t deserve their loyalty and support. 

Grace implies unconditional love and acceptance with no condemnation, no judgement, no rejection 

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (ESV)

The Passion Translation “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

Relationships in which people do not accept us without shame or condemnation are ultimately hurtful and do not produce personal growth. 

They require us to be different than we are in order to be accepted, and we are unable to use love that we must earn.

Grace does the opposite … and we need grace to have a safe relationship 

Grace says the you are accepted just like you are and that you will not be shamed or incur wrath for whatever you are experiencing. 

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.” (The Passion Translation)

Truth … The third quality that Jesus embodied for us was truth. 

Truth implies many things, but in relationships it implies honesty, being real with one another, and living out the truths of God within the relationship or friendship. 

Many people think that safe relationships are relationships that just give grace without confrontation, but these relationships are ultimately destructive as well.

We need people in our lives who will be honest with us

Telling us where we are wrong and where we need to change. 

We need friends that walk according to the truth and live out the principles of God with us. 

That does not mean that they are not accepting, but it means that in their acceptance of us they are honest about our faults without condemning us and without being judgmental 

Ephesians 4:15 “Speaking the truth in love…”

Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

True safe relationships are ones where we can speak the truth to one another, confronting one another as needed. 

Grace and the absence of condemnation allow us to do this with less fear than would occur in a condemning relationship. 

The calling of the Bible is that we need to be the kind of people to each other (believers) that Jesus is with us

And to build healthy and safe relationships with non-believers so that they can come to know the love of God as found only in Christ Jesus who lives in you

To have safe relationships we need to be people who dwell with each other in grace and truth. 

So a safe person will be one who is there for us and through whom we experience grace and truth in every day life.