Too often Christian faith has been portrayed simply as a matter of holding right doctrine and abiding by authorized morality.

But a thorough reading of the New Testament gives immense weight to the conviction that Christian faith, while not ignoring the value of doctrine and personal morality, is overwhelmingly concerned about how we live in relationship with one another.

It is ironic that a text that is so concerned about how we get along together, has so frequently been used to divide and separate on the basis of disagreements on doctrine and morality. How is it possible to consider oneself a serious student of the New Testament and walk away from fellow Christians simply because they hold a different view on some disputed doctrinal issue or some conflict over how the Christian life should be lived?

It may seem tedious, but read the New Testament quotes below and ask yourself, what grounds they provide for creating separation in the body of Christ.

Why are relationships important in the Christian life?

The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters. For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (I John 3:10,11)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1-7)

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34,35)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (I John 4:7-12)

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5,6)

we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. (Romans 12:5)

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What qualities are to characterize Christian relationships?

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulnessgentleness, and inner strength (self-control). (Galatians 5:22,23)

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness (meekness), and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. (Colossians 3:12-15)

be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)

Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’ (Mark 9:50)

the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. (I Corinthians 12:25,26)

love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. (Romans 12:10)

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. (I Peter 1:22)

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another (I Thessalonians 4:9)

may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. (I Thessalonians 3:12)