The Risk of Relationship
By Fin Sheridan
Is it worth the risk? That’s the question that we ask many times a day, sometimes consciously but mostly unconsciously. There are significant risks and insignificant risks. “Do I have enough time to make a coffee before this meeting?” – not particularly dangerous or risky (unless you have a strict boss…)! Crossing the road – a potentially life threatening risk that many of us take very nonchalantly. How and when to spend money often involves risk: should we buy, save or invest?
The biggest risks that most of us will take, however, are in our relationships. All meaningful relationships, from romantic to genetic to friendships, involve a degree of risk. They’re risky because we are making ourselves vulnerable. For a relationship to progress or deepen, we must be known by another and that is scary. Opening up can be challenging. Trusting can be hard – especially if we’ve been hurt in our past.
Our human instinct is to protect ourselves, to cover ourselves. Just as Adam and Eve covered their nakedness, as they hid from God, part of sin’s effect on us is that we now feel “afraid to be naked”. Being known by another is a scary prospect, one that requires us to risk.
“Christians should have deep, truthful relationships because we are the ones that can be free from living for the approval and validation of other people.”
Pastor and author, Tim Keller, puts it like this: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
It’s the Gospel, the good news that God fully knows and yet still truly loves us, that gives us the freedom to therefore be vulnerable with one another, to take risks and open up ourselves to the people around us.
Christians should have deep, truthful relationships because we are the ones that can be free from living for the approval and validation of other people. We are fully loved in Jesus – he has answered the big “Am I worth loving?” question that we all ask – and so, from that place of security, I am free to love the people around me.
I’m free to share my struggles. I am free to share my hurts. I am free to share my dreams. I am free to be just myself and to offer myself to another to be loved and to love. I am free to take the risk of relationship.