God created us in relationship. From the day we’re conceived, we live in relationship. Until we’re born, our most direct relationship aside for our creator is with our mother. Though there are other relationships indirectly, with our father, siblings, grandparents, doctors, etc., our relationship with our mother takes priority. When we’re born, we enter into a seemingly endless sequence of relationships, all of differing degrees. Some we give greater priority and, as we grow, we have our favorites: a favorite cousin, a best friend, we get along better with one sibling than another – and we tell them in one way or another, “you’re my favorite”.
Inevitably, we find ourselves with some fellow Christians, perhaps playing a question-answer game, in which we’re asked about our best friend. As others name some childhood friend or relative, there’s always that one person who trumps the list by naming “Jesus”. We laugh or groan a little, but according to the diagram, yes Jesus should be our best friend, right? Among Christians, it really should be implied, that’s why others don’t name him, right? We hope.
That’s the point of the diagram above which depicts this “priority of relationships”, and though it doesn’t capture all the nuances of our relationships, we get the idea. Yes, God must be the #1 priority of our lives, but I would warn against making the circle around our relationship with God a boundary independent of the relationships that surround it. In Sacred Scripture, Jesus inextricably links the two greatest commandments to love God and to love your neighbor. As 1 John 4:20 tells us, you cannot love God whom you have not seen if you do not love your brother whom you have seen. The apostle James adds that our words of love must be accompanied by action (James 2:16). We not only demonstrate our love of God through faith, church, worship, prayer, and Bible reading (to name a few), but through our love of neighbor. Such love must be expressed in word and action. Every parent with more than one child grasps what God is telling us because discord among children hurts us as parents. We likely have told (or will tell) our children something similar, “If you love me, you will be kind to your sister.” Perhaps someone can design a graphic that better captures this part of the relationship reality, where love of God is first and central, but also encompassing all other loves.
Which brings me to my favorite person (in the non-divine category). There’s a little routine I have with Ellen. I’d like to say I stick to it every day, but every now and then I fall out of it. Eventually, it comes to me again and I tell her, “You’re my favorite person.” I’d like to think I show it on most days, but that’s something she and others will have to confirm by observation.
What little things do you say to those you love. What actions are meaningful to them? Let me know in the comments below. Let us know you like this content by clicking like, then share with friends and family.