In 1986, at the age of 20, Christopher Wright drove away from his home in Massachusetts, arrived in northern Maine, left the keys on the center console of his car, and disappeared into the woods. He wandered in the woods for a couple of years before establishing a campground on private property where he would live for the next 25 years – alone.
Christopher Wright would not have a conversation with another human being for almost three decades. During this time, he would not snap a photo, send an email, make a phone call, or have any form of communication with another individual.
The “North Pond Hermit” would become legendary in north Maine. For 27 years, there was an unexplainable series of more than one thousand burglaries in the area. No doors or windows were ever broken. Instead locks were picked meticulously, only to be relocked as the thief left the property. No one was ever physically injured (though there sense of safety and security was hurt) and nothing of significant material value was stolen (though people were still robbed of things they possessed).
Despite living as a recluse in amazingly self-sufficient ways, Christopher Wright still needed other people (or at least something other people could offer). As much as we may sometimes want to disappear into the woods and live as a recluse, there is a relational need embedded deep into the fabric of every human being. It’s simply the way we were created.
Though we may try to satisfy this relational need with just any relationship, what we truly need are relationships that add value to our lives. We need healthy, God-honoring relationships – they simply make life better and us better at life.
In part 3 (Relationships Matter) of CCC’s “Why What Matters” series, this relational aspect of life was explored through the value: God-honoring relationships should permeate the life of whole-hearted followers of Jesus. The message was based on a letter written by the early church leader, Paul to a first century church in Rome. In the letter, Paul uncovers some traits that mark healthy, God-honoring relationships.
Take a few minutes to read Romans 12:9-21 and the next step of considering the following questions about healthy, God-honoring relationships.
- Do you agree we are created to be relational beings? Why or why not?
- What would you describe as a healthy relationship?
- What would you describe as an unhealthy relationship?
- What does not pretending to love one another mean? How can pretending be unhealthy in relationships?
- How would you define honor? Why is taking the lead in showing honor healthy in relationships?
- What does it mean to practice hospitality? How does this encourage relational health?
- How does experiencing healthy emotions lead to healthy relationships?
- What does it mean to live in harmony? How do you know when someone is “like-minded” with you?
- If living in harmony isn’t the same as never disagreeing, how are disagreements navigated in harmony?
- Why do people sometimes think they are “too good” to spend time with “ordinary people”? How is this unhealthy relationally?
- In what ways is paying back evil for evil damaging to relationships?
- What does it mean to make every effort to live at peace with everyone? How is this sometimes impossible? Why is it important to make sure our initiative is the pursuit of peace?
- What next steps will you take to get “on your marks” relationally?
As much as some may want to disappear like Christopher Wright did in the deep woods of northern Maine, doing so will eventually expose the relational need embedded deep into the fabric of how we were created. We simply need healthy, God-honoring relationships.
If you were asked to assess the health of your relationships, how would they hold up? What standard of health would you use for evaluating them? Are they marked with genuine love, honor, hospitality, harmony, humility, and peace? Imagine how radically different life would be if everyone strove to mark relationships with these.
Today is Monday – make it a day where you are “on your marks” with healthy, God-honoring relationships.