In part 1 of "great relationships" I sought to explain the basis of unconditional love and why it is important for all of us to understand and grasp the elusive “true love” that makes for high quality long lasting relationships.  The Bible tells us that God is love.  As we saw yesterday God defines love His way.  His way is so much better then ours, but it is much harder to grasp and understand because it is supernatural and spiritual.

Practically speaking, in order to build a long lasting and successful relationship with any person you must be honest with each other.  Besides discovering the meaning of "unconditional love" I believe that "honesty" is the most powerful anecdote in the preservation of our closest relationships.  

Once you begin to love someone unconditionally, no matter how many dumb things they have done to destroy your relationship with them, you are beginning to build a deep sense of loyalty with that person.  They perceive that your relationship is special so they begin the process of testing this "love" you have for them.  In the best scenario, both of you realize that this is beyond anything human.  The testing continues until the other party just caves in and accepts the fact that you love them.

This process of deepening the tie of love parallels God's way with us!  Those of us who have come into relationship with the Father through Jesus know firsthand something of what I'm speaking.  We sin, we make mistakes, we fall on our faces, we turn our backs on God, we pout, we get angry, we have an affair with another god and our Lord Jesus keeps loving us! 

Now watch what happens next.  As you walk with God for a period of time you start to just tell him your heart.  How you feel about your life and your pain and your joy.  When disappointments come instead of turning away from Your Heavenly Father you let your broken heart turn toward Him.  Why?  Because you know He loves YOU!  At this point you begin to become a friend of God. 

Honestly, I am a friend of God.  I have walked with Him my entire life, I never knew time that I did not speak to Him about my problems.  In my teenage years, I turned my back on God for about 2 years when trouble came into my life, later on in my early adult life I started to vent with my face turned toward Him.  In the last few years I have asked Him to help me with a stronger and stronger sense that He loves me so my doubts about His love toward have almost been eradicated from my heart. 

Jesus and I go through life together.  I tell Him when I am hurt and angry, I tell Him when I am afraid, I tell Him that I am excited about something, I tell Him good He is too me,  I tell Him that I am thankful for the pain He has brought into my life to make me more like Him.  Recently, I have been telling Him when I wish He would hurry up and get me back into the game of doing what I love!  Livin Lattes gave me the opportunity to  share His Love with any and everybody who He brought into the cafe.  Now we are waiting for His Move, so I share His Love through blogging to show His grace at work in my life so that makes a difference in yours.

As I continue this love relationship with God I am learning to rest in the full assurance of His Love for me; I so much look forward to being with Him forever.  In turn, my marriage gets better and better with each passing year.  My wife and I are together learning about unconditional love and meaning of covenant and keeping our promise to love to truly love each other in the spirit of how God loves us!  As you glean the riches of God's love toward you, you can really enter into deep relationships with others. 

Now we can move into something that will enrich your relationship beyond your wildest dreams.  With humans you enter this point carefully and deliberately, but you move forward because you seek a "real relationship" with our future wife or husband.  To do this according to God’s plan, we protect ourselves from foolish short-sighted relationships that may mess up our long term plan to have a great marriage.  In essence we show love for the person God has for us before we ever meet them.

What do you believe that you have found God's choice for you?  I believe you begin to prepare yourself for spending the rest of your life with them.  You study your heart with them, is God giving you a heart to love them unconditionally.  Do your closest friends support the relationship?  Do your parents support the relationship?   Has your potential life partner started to love you the way you love them?  

When do you do commit yourself and make "covenant" with the love of your life?  I believe when honesty enters into the relationship.   A marriage will not last that is not based on truth.  Can you speak the "truth" to them without fear of losing your relationship with them?

As you stumble forward to prepare yourself for this covenant relationship, a good look at your heart reveals that you are willing to walk through life with this person no matter what happens.  This unique quality of truth and honesty emerges in the relationship, making the entire risk of going for a “until death due you part” marriage completely worth the journey.

Jesus never married while He was here on earth but Jesus had some very close friends.  One of His closest friends was Peter. In the last months of Jesus life here on earth, He shared with closest friends that He had to go to Jerusalem to celebrate a great feast.  His closest disciples knew that His enemies were going to try to kill Him there, so the outspoken Peter got into Jesus face and said "no, you are not going to Jerusalem I won't permit it"!  Jesus stepped up to his face and stated very boldly and with complete honesty, "get behind me Satan!" 

Soon after this confrontation, Jesus told this same Peter that he would openly disown Him three times.  Peter denies he will ever forsake his friend even to the point of saying that his love for Jesus was so strong that would die for Him.  Most of us would walk from that kind of honesty, even though Peter did deny Jesus in His greatest hour of need, he knew in the depths of his heart that Jesus still loved him because when Peter denied Jesus the third time, Jesus turned and looked at him with eyes of love.  Yes, while Jesus was being handed over to be tortured and killed through crucifixion, the worse form of human execution ever invented, Jesus invested in a glance toward Peter to say, “I still love you!”

History tells us that Peter followed Jesus up til the time he was handed over to the religious leaders to be sentenced to death.  Most of the other disciples had fled from Jesus.  So if Peter did not follow Jesus out of love for Him then He would have never denied Him publicly.  Peter knew enough about Jesus that he was fully confident of His love for Him, this love magnetized Peter’s broken heart, no matter what, Peter would not, he could not, give up on this crazy powerful kind of supernatural love.

Do you see how honesty is essential all close and intimate relationships?  I don't mean that you tell your friends everything.  Some things are between you and God, or they need "time" to pass before they are revealed.  One of the most common mistakes we make in forming new relationships is telling too much of ourselves too fast. 

Remember what I shared yesterday, first you study the ways of a special someone and then over time, if marriage is the goal, you prepare your heart for unconditional love.  Then and only then, if God's intention for the relationship is marriage, you spend the rest of life learning to be honest with your husband or wife in order to experience supernatural agape love.  If you do this, you will change the world around you!

Now watch this, a deep unconditional love will carry you through the most intense storms of life.  The reason so many divorce is that their relationship is not honest!  People marry for money, people marry to keep up with the crowd, people marry for sex, people marry to have a baby, but all this will not carry you through the inevitable storms that will blow on your relationship. Amen.

So get close to God by loving Him in all your life struggles.  Look to Jesus as the ultimate example of unconditional and true love.  Look at the cross; see how he substituted His life for you to release you from the penalty of all your emotional garbage that manifests into real sinful behavior.  Jesus stepped knowingly and honestly in front of God’s nuclear justice against the sins of His people by bearing the punishment for them.  Let all that sink deep into your heart, meditate on it daily, never let go of its truth, and start loving people the way Jesus loves you!