Greetings to you all, friends the world over!
I hope you found my 3-Part Post on the substitutionary role of Christ’s mediation helpful and useful to your faith, as much as it has brought you peace and joy that’s deservedly yours as a child of God. You are someone I call, Bula man-river,* a metaphor for the believer who is covered by Christ’s mediatory role as Savior and High Priest.
In this post, I would like to cover the topic of human relationships. Relationships are the most important of all human interactions. It forms the basis of human existence and the foundation upon which all decent societies are built. They ultimately affect how we are judged as a nation, and how we conduct ourselves in international relations. (Pro.14:34) The origin of relationships is founded upon the nature of the Creator God who created all things to reflect Him in His Triune nature. God, who existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lived in Loving relationship with each other from eternity. That is the basis of human relationships.
Human Relationships based upon the Triune Life of God (Rublev’s Icon of Trinity, Wiki Commons)
Notice the plural/collective pronoun/adjective, God refers to Himself when He created mankind, “Let US make human beings in OUR image, make them reflect OUR nature, so they can be responsible for (have dominion) … creation” (Gen.1:26-27, MSG, emphasis added). “Elohim” is God in the plural. He did not say ‘let me,’ or ‘after my likeness.’ By declaring His plurality saying, ‘US,’ and ‘OUR,’ He signifies His Trinitarian nature, which is expounded in the scripture as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God. (Matt. 28:19; John 15:26; 2 Cor.13:14) God is Triune and therefore relational. He is not a “solitary” and reclusive Being. God is not some solo, self-contained Being who is trying to subjugate His people as a stern judge and ruler, as many picture Him. God’s underlying nature is Triune, from which their Love unites them in ONE existence – ONE, unified, and inseparable Being. God can only be Love and thereby relational because He is Triune. For Love unites, but isolation breeds fear and division. All of creation was the design of the God who is Trinitarian and reflects His Triune expression.
So, creation reflects His relational and interconnected existence. For there is no dislocation between God’s doing and who He is in His Triune Love. God Loves precisely because God is Love in His Triunity. There is no other possible way God could have made all things, whether visible or invisible, except to reflect Himself. Likewise, everything man does, he carries out to reflect his own humanity. For instance, man will not act to reflect the beast of the forest, for he has no inherent identity with beasts. We see this underlying dynamism at work in animated films, where animals are made to behave like humans; speak like humans. So, we can act and do things only by how we are intrinsically natured, from which we can never deviate. So, everything that must be said about relationships, if it is to have an authentic expression, has to start from the vantage point of man who is natured in God’s Triune image of Love.
Love – The Foundation of Relationships
Man’s relationships will always be based upon Love, for God is Love. That is, His narrative of Love … not man’s definition. Whether man wish to acknowledge it or not, man’s existence is hardwired into God’s Love. When we deviate from that which we are natured to be, we find ourselves in problematic relationships. It seems everywhere we look there’s increasing fragmentation of relations. We question the sincerity of our love for people and wonder if it is worth our effort trying to love others, even on a human level. We have been blind-sided into these relationship knots from which we can’t free ourselves. However, many times we miss what Jesus tells us clearly: “A brand-new command I give you: Love one another.” If the decree to Love is a brand-new command, then what’s new about it? What’s different about it? Does it make any difference? He answers, “As I have Loved you, Love one another.” How did He Love us? He answers, “As the Father has Loved me, so have I Loved you. Now remain in my Love” (John 15:9). Jesus was speaking from His Trinitarian relationship in the Father and the Spirit. He was making known a new command of the Triune Love of God, which the disciples never saw except in the life of Jesus for three and half years.
“God is Love” (1 John 4:8) (Pic: Wiki Commons)
Leading Through Loving/Serving
So, though Jesus was the “leader” to His followers, He did not lead by domination. He displayed leadership by the Love in which He has always existed within the Triune Life of God. He reprimanded His disciples when they haggled about who was dominant among them. Jesus said, “whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to everyone” (Mark 10:35-45, esp. V.44) He was first and foremost the Chief Servant. He proved this, when, after performing a servant’s work of washing the disciples feet before His death, He asked them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?” He answered, “You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life” (John 13: 12-17, MSG). He led them by inviting them to live in the Triune Love and Life of God as He did.
The Triune Love was Never Before Seen in Man’s History, Until Jesus Came
The Triune Love between the Father, Son, and Spirit was something that was never seen articulated in humanity until the Son came and took upon Him His creaturely human body. Jesus came and made possible our “union” with the Triune God to make His new Love command a reality in human life. Never before in the history of man was this Triune Love seen or tasted in human experience until Jesus came. Only Adam and Eve enjoyed it for a time until they alienated themselves from God, and followed man’s “solitary” way of fear. This Love was seen in Jesus’ life, where He went about doing nothing but good and healing all who came to Him (Acts 10:38). When Jesus took our humanity into Himself, this very Love from the Triune Being of God became ours by inheritance. Peter said, “He (Christ) has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” (2 Pet.1:4) All it requires is faith, and the Holy Spirit makes Love flow in our lives as spiritual “living waters.” This is where your life as a Bula man-river takes his stand.
In my Book, “Bula man-river* – The Miracle of Triune Living,” I explained 3 mandates God gave man from the outset of His creation, by which to develop his relationship with God, other humans, and with creation as a whole. The three mandates reflect the way they existed from eternity in their Triune nature. He desires of man to adopt and live like they do in their Triunity. Here are excerpts from my Book on the 3 mandates:
1. The Genesis ‘Helper Mandate’
“The first act of man in his relationship with another human is to use his God-given purpose to promote “creative living” with his fellowman. The purpose of gifts is to be creative as God is Creator. If gifts originate from the divine source, then man’s relationship with one another is mediated by the One who is inherently part of the gift – the Gift-Giver, Jesus – through the “living waters” of the Bula man-river.* The creative aspect of this relationship was given at the beginning when Adam was created and the original “other” human was taken from him. There God uttered the first of three Genesis Mandates for man through Adam and Eve: to be a fitting “helper” for each other. Though the primary context for this instruction is marriage, the meaning is twofold. Since Eve was the only “other” human besides Adam, by extension she also represented our “neighbor,” whoever he or she may be. For the “helper” can be applied in every context, not necessarily matrimonial. I call this the “helper mandate.” We saw Jesus re-echoed this first principles from Genesis to His disciples in the final hours before His crucifixion.
“Paul encouraged the Corinthians, saying we are “helpers of your joy” (2 Cor. 1:24, KJV). Further, he told the Romans, “Owe no man anything, except the debt of Love” (Rom. 13:8; Gal. 6:2, KJV). Jesus reiterated man’s “helper mandate” when He said we are to “Love our neighbors as we Love ourselves” (Mark 12:31, emphasis added). The famed 23rd Psalm depicts God as the “helper” of mankind. So we see in all this that the “creative living” outline cannot be denied: to be a “helper.” The primary purpose of our calling therefore is ultimately to “help” one another and bring all mankind to unity with the Triune God in Jesus.” (Pg.177)
2. The Genesis ‘Dominion Mandate’
“We cease to be “helpers” when we violate man’s “dominion mandate.” What is the “dominion mandate”? It is the second Genesis Mandate that has two parts given to mankind by the Creator: how he is to interact and conduct himself with creation, and with his fellow humans. The first part is the “helper mandate” in man’s relation with his fellowman, while the “dominion mandate” explains man’s relation in his dominion over all creation, which doesn’t include dominion over another person (Gen. 1:26-31; 2:19-20). We are to “help” not “dominate” our fellow humans. Only God is man’s ruler because He is man’s Savior. We are to be man’s “helper,” not “ruler.” A person’s relationship with another is either creative or uncreative, productive or unproductive, but is hardly ever neutral. We make the mistake of trying to merge the two when it can’t be done, and we can be one or the other depending on which river we ride. There is no Savior of mankind except Jesus (John 3:16). Every single human is given equal and shared dominion over the earth under the Creator (Ps. 24:1; Eccl. 5:9, NKJV). The passage from Genesis makes clear the dual mandate of man’s dominion over the entire creation, and the mandate of being “helpers” of his fellowman.” (Pg.178)
Mankind has unwittingly, or wittingly, rendered God’s “dominion mandate” ineffective by violating His first mandate of being “helpers” of other’s joy. We have turned the “dominion mandate” on its head by seeking to control (dominate) others. So we see people resist and fight dictators and tyrants that’s littered in the annals of revolutions and uprisings, across the face of man’s history. They have no freedom to express themselves in a shared dominion of this earth where people of all races and cultures are equal inheritors, by Divine gesture. (Micah 4:4; Gen.1:26-27) Instead, in the flow of the Triune Life we have in Christ, we’re to live in the Life-energy of God’s Love-expression, to help people in the shared dominion of this earth. We must not see this earth as the object of our fears, which results in greed and covetousness. This is what we have witnessed in man’s history on this earth as man express himself in his “solitary” way of life, apart from God, and His mandates. The next mandate completes God’s three-fold decrees.
3. The Genesis ‘Triune Mandate’
“Man will dominate the blessing of the richness of this earth in peace, fairness, integrity, and true abundance when he exercises his dominion as the Creator decreed. God’s decree, vis-à-vis living like his Maker, ushers in the third Genesis mandate in the words, “Let us make human beings in the image and likeness. Male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26, 27). I like to call this the “likeness mandate.” Man’s only purpose of existence is to live in the Creator’s likeness. As the likeness of God is Trinitarian, I also call it the “Triune likeness mandate.” By adding his “helper” and “dominion” mandates, man’s purpose can be said to be a “helper” of his fellowman in his “dominion” over this earth, by living in the “Triune likeness” of his Maker. Triune living is about a life of interdependence with one another in Christ and the Spirit, helping one another in man’s dominion of this earth.”
“The exercise of authority over another human, whether by coercion, physical force, or even psychological means, is precluded in the Genesis “dominion mandate.” God holds dominion over every man, woman, and child, and He has not abdicated His sovereignty since the creation of mankind. Man may live under the sway of his archenemy and his deceptions, but God is the final arbiter over man’s fate. You see, our Creator placed in humans the aggressive spirit to reinforce and support His earthly “dominion mandate.” That is how mankind has progressed and advanced, which continues to our present day. However, the mandate limits man’s domineering spirit over the earth and all in it, which precludes another human.” (Pg.179)
I go on to say in my Book that trust or faith is the bedrock upon which all healthy relationships are built and made to last.
“Trust (faith) is the basis of all human and Godly relationships that began in Eden. The foundation of trust is grounded upon the three-fold Genesis Mandates the Creator gave mankind. Those relationships were hijacked by the devil, who introduced his own “domineering” spirit dictated by distrust, fear, self-interest, and greed (Gen. 3). Man bought it lock, stock, and barrel, and the rest is a history of heartaches, sufferings, violence, and death. As a result of fear and the absence of God’s Spirit in man, the devil has wreaked havoc in men’s relationships with one another. God has never abdicated His sovereignty over man, and from the beginning promised a Savior (Gen. 3:15). Not only must we discontinue our control of our fellowman; we are also not to place our trust in them, but in God alone. The mandate is clear: it is to “help” not “trust.” The reason for this is obvious. There is only One who can save in whom man can wholly trust without fear of being betrayed or deceived – Jesus. Where people overextend their dominion to include men and place their wholehearted trust in them, sooner rather than later they awaken to find their trust is seriously misplaced.” (Pg.180)
From the Joyous to the Toxic
As I pen this blog post, I realize the innumerable human relationship issues that exist in all peoples from all walks of life. It is human to be in relationship dynamics where we are seeking resolutions for mutual co-existence. When we speak of humanity and relationships, they are one and the same thing. Our families are the product of relationships. Our work, though we may tacitly assume as matters of happenstance, are outcomes of relationships we have engendered, and continues to be such. So is school, and every other human affiliation we have encountered in life. Relationships come in all shapes, size, and color. At times relationships may seem insurmountable, complicated, and inexplicable. At other times, they may not be so complicated where both parties see eye-to-eye on matters which can be of mutual interest and benefit. So, relationships can range from the joyous to the toxic.
Man Is Relational…Because God Is!
All of man’s relationship issues can be traced back to man’s ignorance and flagrant violation of the three mandates given when God created humans. It seems, from most accounts, the issue that’s predominant in the world today is the blatant exploitation of the “dominion mandate” which renders the “helper mandate” superfluous and redundant. And we see this spirit of “control” extensive not only in the many facets of the life of individuals, but across the spectrum of human interactions, in communities, the corporate world, politics, of governance, to international relations between nations. Be that as it may, we cannot see this relationship issue simply on a one-dimensional “dominion mandate” view alone, for the three mandates can work only in unison. It must be understood that the first two mandates cannot be articulated in its true authentic expression without the third all-important mandate, where a person is existing from within the Triune Life of God. It is the foundation upon which the first and second mandates derive its life, energy, and meaning. For in fact, the “Triune mandate” is uttered first, as the foundation decree, as shown in Genesis. (Gen.1:26-27; 2:18) Here, as in all of His creation, we see how man’s relationship (existence) with his fellow humans relies upon this three-dimensional principle, rather than on fallen man’s “solitary” one-dimensional life. It is fashioned after a God who is Triune and lives by this same three-dimensional principle. Man’s relationship dynamics has its underpinning in the Creator who Himself is relational in His Tripartite existence.
The Genesis Three-Pronged Principle Basis of Human Relationships
Once we figured out God is Love in His Triune existence, and He has included us in His Trinitarian Being in His Son, by the power of the Spirit, we will see the authentic underpinning of man’s interaction with other humans. The Holy Spirit will be the power working mysteriously and miraculously in man, even though we may not be conscious of how He orchestrates life in all its complexity. Or so it seems, but not for Him. We will see human life is to be fashioned and shaped after the Creator who is relational, and we observe what Jesus said, “I have laid down a pattern for you. What I have done, you do” – living the Trinitarian Life. That is the first and all-important base we cover in this matter of human relationships. It begins with the family unit from which human life begins. Then it extends outside to others as our human connection determines how we cultivate relationships – in our homes, our work places, schools, churches, social interactions, villages and towns, in sporting activities, and numerous other affiliations. The three-pronged principle I have covered in this post is the way God has determined from the outset of man’s existence on this earth, as the essence of how human relationship is cultivated and made to thrive in its authentic expression, undergirded in His Triune nature of Love. (You may read my Book for a broader expose’ of this subject. See above for ordering details)
You, as a Bula man-river,* must recognize as having your existence in the Triune Being of God in Christ and through the inspiration of the Spirit, is made to have relationship engagements based upon God’s Love. I end with encouragement to live as Jesus did in the Triune Love and relationship He has with God and His fellowmen.
May the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you today and give you strength for authentic Triune living in all your relationships.
Until the next post,
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
* The “Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bula man-river, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book. Thank you for your support.
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise