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  • Writer's pictureLee Freeman

What Jesus and a Broken Grill Can Teach Us About Relationships

Imagine you knew you were going to die within the next 24 hours. Imagine you had known for years in advance the exact time of your death and you had spent years preparing your loved ones for your departure. I bet your words in the last 24 hours of your life would be terribly important, the overflow of your dearest values. Your deathbed words. And as your departure underlined your final words, I imagine their impact would deepen in the shadow of your passing. That’s how I imagine Jesus’s last hours, especially his prayers in Gethsemane. In his final moments of solitude, knowing he was about to face excruciating torture and death, what was on his heart?

Consider the magnitude of Jesus’s deathbed prayer to God in John 17:21. Jesus prayed for his followers to experience oneness—a oneness so close that it reflects the Trinity. He also explained the stakes: “so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” In other words, our ability to reconcile with others reveals the heart of God to reconcile the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). There is a supernatural power in how we love one another, and it is so compelling that it literally helps others believe in God.

Perhaps the potency of this approach is precisely because this is not the way of the world. Maybe more than any time in human history, we now live in a disposable age. We have been conditioned that if something is not working, we throw it away and get a new one. But far too often, it costs us dearly.

Weber Spirit grill

A couple years ago, I bought a slightly used Weber grill on Facebook Marketplace. The owner decided to sell it after the wind blew it over and damaged the instrument panel. It was broken, but rather than investigate to see if a fix was possible, the owner sold it to me for pennies on the dollar. After I brought it home, I called Weber and learned it was still under warranty. I paid a few bucks to ship the parts and spent a bit of time making the repair, and in the end I had a like-new Weber for less than $100 and less than an hour of time. Not only that, but in the process of repairing my grill, I gained a better appreciation for its craftsmanship, how to protect it going forward, and how to provide what it needed if other issues should arise. Okay, maybe I’m stretching this analogy a bit too far, but you get the point.

A person is infinitely more valuable than a Weber grill. Yet I have heard story after story of well-intended counselors advising a disposable approach. There is an important place for boundaries (see Matthew 18:15-17), but far too often we jump straight to boundaries without any real attempt at reconciliation. Too often, as each party stays in their hurt and dutifully builds boundaries to protect themselves, the chasm between them widens. The problem is that if our goal is to protect ourselves from those who hurt us, we lose the vulnerability that facilitates emotional intimacy and growth. Jesus proposes a better alternative. In his deathbed prayer, he doesn’t pray for protection from one another—he requests protection for one another so we can be unified.

One final thought: in difficult situations, there is usually at least one party who feels the situation is hopeless. They see the damage on the instrument panel and believe the grill is totaled. We should just sell it, they think, unable to conceive a better alternative in their hurt and frustration. It’s okay to feel hopeless and overwhelmed. But I hope you won’t stay there. The Bible makes it clear we are to do everything we can to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), urgently resolving problems (Ephesians 4:26) as a matter of utmost importance (Matthew 5:24). Unfortunately, we often don’t know how. That’s where an appropriately trained counselor with a high value for reconciliation can come in. They can hold onto hope when you feel hopeless. They can give you the Weber customer service number and tell you about the warranty. Often, the repair is easier than you think. And even when it isn’t, there are very few endeavors on this planet more worthwhile.


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