Safe Relationships – Part Two

The best example of a safe person is found in Jesus. In Him were found the three qualities of a safe person: dwelling, grace, and 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. What all of this means is that safe relationships are an aspect of the incarnational qualities of Jesus, for Jesus became present as a man, 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 (Romans 8:1 and Ephesians 4:32). 

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

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 truth 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 that they are honest about our faults without condemning us. 

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 that Jesus is with us, 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. 

Safe Relationships – Part One

I have come to appreciate having a “safe relationship.” I have a friend and we have been working at building a solid and powerful 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 its become the real person that God created us to be

The Bible refers to these three areas of spiritual growth. 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).

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

We all want people in our lives that help us in these ways. But the problem is, how do we recognize them? What do they look like?

We all struggle on different sides of 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. Others think that they must depend only on themselves. 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. In Him were found the three qualities of a safe person: dwelling, grace, and 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).

We will look at these three aspects of a safe person who then allows us to develop a safe relationship tomorrow.