Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… Gen 1:26 ESV
From the beginning, God created us to be in relationship. Consider our creation: God consulted within the trinity (let us) and determined to make mankind in His image. While the image of God covers many aspects, the relational aspects of the trinity must be a key component of this since God hints at this in the passage. Since God quickly made mankind as both male and female and brought them together into a one-flesh relationship, we glean God created us in His image partially in order to relate to others.
How does this impact our spiritual formation? If part of the image of God within us involves relating to others, then the quality and quantity of our relationships matters to God. Hence, our relationships comrise a key aspect of our spiritual formation. In short, we should all have two kinds of relationships: those that we pour into and those that pour into us. Possessing both these relationships is critical. Most people seem to either pour into others (and struggle to allow others to pour into them), or they constantly receive from others and fail to give. Since God created us to relate, we should have friendships that do both.
For this reason, I find myself often reflecting on these two types of friends. Whom do I have in my life that I’m investing in? This could cover a variety of relationships: my wife, children, neighbors, church family, extended family, those that don’t know the Lord Jesus, etc. Simultaneously, I ask myself, “Who is investing in me?” While I may feel no one is, I usually find that’s because I’m not putting myself in a place to be invested in. We have to put ourselves in a place to receive, and then be ready to receive what is offered…even if it’s not what we had in mind. But now I digress into a future post. For today, just ask yourself if you have a balance of friends you are investing in and friends who are investing in you. That’s relationship spiritual formation.