There are many books written on the topic of boundaries; boundaries in dating, boundaries in marriage, boundaries with children. Boundaries abound! While it’s all wonderful and necessary to have boundaries; what about boundaries when it comes to our relationship with Christ? Setting boundaries in your relationship with Jesus must and should be a priority.
When you think of your life what boundaries do you currently have in place? I often ask this of my college students and well; you probably would not be surprised by the answer. None. I ask them what boundaries they have in place with their cell phones, sex before marriage, their time; and I’ve been told they don’t really have much time to think about such trivial things and here is where the problem will continue. Those young adults turn into 40 somethings; and still with no boundaries. And by the way; do you have any boundaries with your cell phone? Do you own it or does it own you?
If we have no boundaries in anything in life; then what impact will it have? Obviously we can see the impact in how we are treating one another and being treated, the divorce rate, the singlehood rate; the rate of abortion and everything else is evident of clear boundaries and some may say lack of respect for self.
As we examine boundaries in our relationship with Christ what boundaries do you have in place? Do you set aside specific time daily for reading scripture, studying scripture, meditating on His Word; prayer? Or it is just go and serve in the building? Now in no way am I coming against serving by any means although what tends to happen is a scenario such as this:
People enter into a church and because there is such a need they serve. It’s wonderful as there is a need and people are pleased to meet the need. Then the need grows and the people are needed more; and because they believe they are called to serve it continues only to the downfall of the relationship with Christ. The relationship with Christ for many turns into a complaint session of how tired they are from serving. As such instead of growing closer to the Lord they grow further and drift away. Christ is left there alone while people resent Him when in reality if only they had set boundaries with Him they would not be in such a position in the first place. They would have both; the healthy relationship with Christ and be serving.
It all begins with Christ and our relationship with Him. Period. We must start there because there will always be a need. Always. There will never not be a time in life when there is not a need for something. If you do not have boundaries in place then won’t you simply get tired and who’s fault will it be? It’s time that we set in place boundaries to protect our relationships with the Lord because if we don’t how can we expect it to grow? Remember that you will not possess what you are not willing to protect!
So how do you do it? How do you set boundaries in your relationship with Christ? As I was reading John 21:15-17 I was drawn by the fact that 3 times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter answered 3 times yes. Each time he did the Lord gave him a responsibility. The one thing that Jesus never asked was about his skills or education; because obviously He knew what was most important. Love.
Through that I recognized that there are many ways to demonstrate love for another; and the Lord demonstrates His love for us as well. So how do you do it? What are ways that you can demonstrate your love for Christ? Set boundaries. It’s quite simple when you actually sit down and apply it. What are all the other things in your life that you are willing to protect? Make your relationship with Jesus the most important and the results will be there. Answer the questions truthfully and you will be able to develop the boundaries that are most suitable for you and your relationship with Christ.
1- How much time am I spending with the Lord now?
2- How much time would I like to be spending with the Lord?
3- What am I giving more priority to that isn’t adding to my life?
4- What have I allowed others to make a priority in my life that really isn’t?
5- What am I willing to rearrange or remove in my life to build and maintain my relationship with Christ?
What you will find is that just as Christ asked Peter if he loved Him; the answer was there along with the proof. Peter went from denying Christ to being all in with love and passion for Him. 3k people gave their lives to the Lord to begin the Book of Acts and God used Peter to reach the non-Jews. Peter also held prayer meetings, kept regular hours of prayer and followed through with his love for the Lord.
You see; his priorities changed and through that there has to be boundaries in place. If there were none there would be no consistent prayer meetings or anything else. Anyone would have free reign to enter and take charge; and that’s what has happened all too often in the lives of Christians. They have good intentions; but so what? Imagine if all Peter had was good intentions and no follow through; where we would be today?
It will require an in-depth introspective look at your relationship with the Lord; no different than a marriage. What do you want in place? What do you want your relationship to look like? What are you willing to accept or not accept? What do you want it to be filled with? If you are not paying attention to that and setting those boundaries in place- someone else with an agenda will use you. It happens all the time to unsuspecting Christians who don’t have those boundaries in place. They get tired and you my dear brother and sister; are worth more than that. And Jesus is. And so is your relationship with Him.
It’s time to reflect on the boundaries not in place or maybe those that need some revising; and set them in place. It’s time to ensure that your relationship with the Lord above all is protected and that your relationship will be all that it is supposed to be for His purpose.
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Before you judge; keep reading. Perhaps you have been there and didn’t know what it was or how to talk about it; or even how to deal with it. It’s one of those not so talked about things like most things of importance in Church. The reality of what many people go through in their relationship with the Lord leaves many trapped and seeking help; yet because God is God may are told just go back and read some scripture and you will just fine. And while true; there is much more to it and when we grasp the full reality of a relationship with the Lord there is much to be gained.
You see; for me personally it was you are a servant of Christ. I was under the authority of a former Vietnam Veteran who’s wisdom and teaching has changed my life in ways unimaginable. Growing in in the Lord and understanding my role and position in Christ and what it means to be a servant is one where was related to military. You are an order taker. You are in rank that of a E-2 and of course ask no questions. You are not worthy of such things because well; you are where you are and God is as well. You are there to serve and take orders as commanded. What you think or want is not important; nor relevant
I got it. I learned much and took orders and grew exponentially. Everything became a status update of ‘I want whatever you want me to have Lord’ and that was how I lived. After all it’s God with the purpose for my life and I am just the one to fulfill that particular role and ask no questions. No opinion necessary. I climbed the ranks and of course as you climb the ranks what you get to do gets better. Increase territory means more fun missions and increase in hearing from God; which also means you are a more lethal target to the enemy. And I loved that part of it. I was battle ready and moving forward.
A few years later I listened to a pastor talk about the difference between being a servant and a friend. There are rewards due a friend that a servant doesn’t have access to. The servant; well rank E-2 has the access that only he is allowed to have and let’s face it it isn’t much. I started to wonder at that moment why I wasn’t thought of us as much more than a servant in the eyes of the Lord.
I searched and started reading the scripture in a new way. When Jesus asked Bartimaeus ‘What do you want’ and he replied ‘I want to see’ that was life changing! It meant that Jesus actually cared more about was someone wanted than the orders given and followed. He wanted interaction! It was also a challenging time to recognize that I could be in that type of relationship with Jesus and that it was ok to actually have an opinion about what I wanted; something that I hadn’t experienced before. And also a challenge because I didn’t know what I wanted; because I had never been asked. Through the process of digging and talking with the Lord I transformed from being the servant rank to being a friend who served and as such knew I was climbing the ranks for the Lord. It was an amazing time of growth with the Lord to say the least.
Well; as with any relationship there are ebs and flows and yes the Lord knows the desires of our hearts and for me it was a husband and family. Knowing that God’s Word is clear in may places in the Word that it’s not good for man to be alone, that He puts the lonely in families, that when you ask believe and don’t doubt, that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord; and I could go on and on. I knew that God answers my prayers because now there are 5 women whom I’ve prayed with for husbands who all have them and within months of the initial prayer.
I listened to a woman say that she is married to the Lord and I asked her what that was like. She said what I expected; God is her provider, she loves Him and all is great. I wondered what really her role in that relationship was or if it was just the proverbial answer that so many recite yet don’t take any further. I reflected on my relationship with the Lord and it wasn’t even close to being a super marriage. In fact I was miserable. Miserable. And I felt worse by even admitting it.
You see; what I saw in my marriage to God was that I was the one doing all the work. I was the one cooking dinner, doing the dishes; and waiting for Him to arrive. I was the one barely making ends meet, driving the vehicle with 160k miles while believing that God will provide. He is after all God right? I was the one in ministry asking for help every which way and getting nothing but the proverbial answers; and then going back to prayer only to leave with less than what I entered with. Where was my husband? Where was the love? Where was the touch of intimacy? I was a wife starving for something- anything from the One could deliver all yet I was completely alone and alone in every way. I felt abandoned, neglected; forsaken. I was begging for something; just a clue that I wasn’t alone. And I was sick of reciting the scriptures as this was’t just a go and read the Bible again answer that so many give. Perhaps you too have been to the depths with the Lord seeking that response that only can come from Him. Press in and keep pressing.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love God. Not at all. It wasn’t even that I wanted to divorce God or walk away. Oh no. We are in this for life and there is no walking away. I am beyond that and didn’t come this far to walk away. I am all in! There is a purpose for my life and regardless I will fulfill because after all; I am more than an E-2 (although we all start somewhere and nothing wrong with starting there) and there is no going back once you go forward. There is only forward. There are no knobs on the other side of the door even if you wanted to go back.
Maybe you’ve been there; where it feels like a stand still with the Lord. You feel like you are doing all that you can and that it isn’t enough, you aren’t enough; and that you can’t get to a place of enough. That is where I was. I started resenting God for who He was in my life because I couldn’t quite grasp how the God who loves me and created me couldn’t even show how much He loved me. I started to resent the fact that God created me in the first place because this was just a joke. Most of my life started looking a joke and a bad one all at my expense. Sure you can judge all you want and say ‘well sister He will never leave you’ and sure I know this. I’ve heard all the religious sayings and the word of faith bla bla bla and that brings more bondage than anything I’ve ever heard. It has people having more faith in the words they speak than in the God who delivers and for me I wanted answers. I wanted to feel love. I wanted to feel cherished. I wanted to feel anything other than forgotten, forsaked and a fool. That’s all. I wanted to feel alive!
Think about your marriage for a moment. Think about what it was like when you first got married; the excitement, the love, the passion, the hope for the future. Then fast forward. Do you ever feel forgotten, not important, or completely unnecessary? Are you an important part of your marriage or are you just in place of it to bake more cookies and pot roast? It’s a lonely place and something much change. And quick before you lose what you have. I had to make a change and quick for the sake of everything And maybe you do to.
I took my issues to the Lord as any wife would take her issues to her husband. And let me say this; if you do have issues with your husband don’t not address them. He and you and your marriage are deserving of that. Of course timing is everything and I told the Lord how much I love Him, respect Him, and don’t want to ever be away from Him- and just how much I resented Him for everything. I resented that He found it ok for me to drive a vehicle falling apart, I told Him I resented Him for the things that He allowed to happen that left me worse off than I had been in years and that as I felt that He as my husband wasn’t protecting me. I told Him everything. Everything. And whether or not my perspective was ‘correct’ didn’t matter. It was how I felt and that was important- just as it is for you. Trying to hide behind religion is what will hurt you more than anything. Just be you and spill it. I had to. And if you are in such a situation- so do you.
You see; what many fail to recognize is that a relationship with God is that- a relationship. A marriage is a marriage and it requires open communication. If you cannot communicate and be honest you are simply living a lie- and most people will simply lie to themselves to they can master the lie to others. Eventually though it will all crumble.
When I reflect on my relationship with God and where we started and the growth over the years I can tell you that Regardless of what you are going through- go to the Lord and share it with Him. If you don’t- what you are going through will only burden you further and that burden will separate you.
When I shared everything with the Lord it changed our relationship entirely. It freed me to just be who I am without the pretense of all the ideologies of what people think a Christian should be. It freed me from the bondage of how I should behave, and how I should approach the Lord; and how I should seek, ask, knock. I stopped worrying about the ‘you can’t say that’ to ‘well; I did and the Lord still loves me’ I went to the Lord based upon ‘my’ relationship with Him and got to the root of the issues I was dealing with and was free. I didn’t want anything in my marriage causing problems and anything evident not dealt with will only increase separation and I didn’t want that any longer- and I’m sure you don’t either.
I share all of this to say that the Lord loves you. He understands what you are going through at every level and when you share with Him your deepest feelings and desires it will not only transform you but also your relationship and your heart toward Him. It changed my level of intimacy as that is a key component in any relationship. If you are struggling with anything in your relationship with the Lord- share it with Him. Deal with it. Open the doors of communication so that you can move toward what’s next with Him and know that you will never be the same in Jesus name.
Dr. Julie is president of Julie Blair ministries helping people grow in Christ. Her television and radio program ‘Living in Forgiveness’ can be heard daily at 9:30pm CST on the UANetwork.
To have Julie speak to your congregation or business visit www.julieblair.com.