Relationship first, behavior third…

As I sit here in my hotel room just outside Akron, Ohio I keep reflecting back on something that jumped out to me last week as I prepared my lesson for Freedom Groups.

In preparing my series on the fear of rejection I was brought back to Colossians 1:18-21 and Paul’s explaining that God poured all of His fullness into Christ so that He had supremacy over everything – for the purpose of reconciling us to Himself.

In verse 21 Paul states why we needed reconciling. I have read that verse several times but all of a sudden something just jumped out to me.

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Colossians 1:21)

Paul lists 3 things here. We were:

1.) alienated from God,
2.) enemies in our mind,
3.) as shown by our evil behavior.

What stood out to me is that Paul, as led by the Holy Spirit, listed “behavior” last in that list, not first.

Now think about this, when someone tries to explain to someone else the problem that God has with man where do they usually start? We usually start with behavior. With sin.
However here in Scripture, it’s listed 3rd in that list.
The first thing that Paul points out is our separation from God. That there has been a break in the original relationship with Him.

The first thing God is concerned with is our relationship with Him, not our behavior.

This is further illustrated by the fact that when Adam and Eve screwed up in the garden, God did not immediately deal with their behavior. No – the first thing He did was to go and do what He did each and every day with them. And that is go walking with them within the garden.He sought them out just like He always did.

For those of us that have been wrapped up in guilt, shame, or destructive behavior – this understanding is earth shattering. God chooses to focus more on the restoration of our relationship than He focuses on our consistent screw-ups.

Now of course this doesn’t mean that God isn’t concerned with my destructive choices.
The Bible is clear that our sin does negatively affect our fellowship with Him and also robs us of the joy our salvation is intended to bring.
But what God is saying here is that His first priority is reconciling the relationship with us.

Again for those of us who tend to under value ourselves as believers, wrap ourselves in self-loathing, or feel enslaved to guilt and shame, this truth can be life-changing.
Not only do I have value and worth because of what Christ did for me, my relationship to Him is far more important to Him, than how many times I have screwed up.

And this is because God is able to separate who I am as believer from what I do as a believer. My value in Him doesn’t change based on my performance or what others think about me.

Understanding this…at least for me…brings me rest…



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