Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reasoning Relationships

     I have been thinking alot about relationships in my life recently.Family relationships, the relationship with my wife, and even friendly associations. Our lives are made up of relationships, whether long term or only for the briefest periods. In many ways relationships define us as human beings. Certainly animals have relationships to some degree, but not to the complex and powerful degree of human relationships.
     There is something mysterious, to my mind, about relationship with our fellow beings. These connections between people are powerful and life-changing. Many times in my life have I heard the old adage, "You are known by the company you keep" and I have, many times, given out that same advice. There is truth to that proverb. The people and relationships in our lives are capable of molding us and shaping our thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Really, our very worldview is strongly influenced by the people we choose to associate with and relate to.
     I think this is why I find the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be such a tremendous mystery and such a marvelous revelation all at once. You see, in the bible, God is not asking us to believe the far fetched tales of an ancient tome about miracles and unseen beings. If miracles and fables are all we see in scripture than we aren't paying attention. No, God is asking us to have a relationship with Him. The whole of Scripture points to God's ultimate desire to have relationship with His broken creation and it is that relationship that baffles me most of all.
     As I sat last night pondering these things it broke upon me what an amazing thing it really is to have relationship with God. Certainly, the bible calls God, "the King of kings", but what an insignificant title to ascribe to the one who breathed this vast creation into existence. To be the King of all earthly kings is a small thing, really, when compared to that. We sit here on this spinning, blue marble in the vastness of a cold universe and the Creator of it all wants a relationship with us. I think that John Piper points this out best of all in his book, God is the Gospel. In this book Piper does a fantastic job of showing that relationship with God is the ultimate good of the Gospel. So, all that Christ did was in order so that we might see our way back to a joyous reunion with our Creator. This is something that separates Christianity from all other worldviews.
     I know of no other religion wherein one might have a relationship with God the way we do in the Christian faith. I understand that in Islam, believers are Allah's servants and can merely hope to attain paradise. In Hinduism, many gods are obeyed but none relationally. In Buddhism the truth lies within and we must quiet our desires and cravings to reach enlightenment. There are no relationships here only service to a creator or a principle. Only in Christianity can we have a loving mutual relationship with our Creator. This relationship is, among other things, what sets the Christian worldview apart from other faiths.
     In fact relationship is part of God's very essence and being. Our God is triune, meaning that He consists of three persons in one Godhead. The trinitarian God of the bible consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One Being, three Persons. Not multiple Gods, just One. In the same way that a man and wife become one on their wedding day, the same is true for God's being; Three in One. This is how the Believer can express to the skeptic, the idea that God is love. In other worldviews a god created so that it could have an object for its love. In Christianity God is love. God can be love because love is expressed among the persons of the Trinity. Among the three persons of the Trinity one can see unity, community, and diversity. Just like the church itself.
     In recent days I have wondered at the many denominations that exist, and why so many Christians seem insensitive to their fellow human beings. (My wife says that I sometimes think too much. She may well be right.) I have concluded that the Trinity is an apt illustration for the Christian church because within the church there is unity around Christ, there is a diversity of opinion on certain doctrines, and a community of Believers that should stand with one another as one to lead the world to relationship with Jesus Christ. One purpose and center, yet with a self-contained diversity. Though, Believers have fallen into the Western world's culture trap of objectifying our fellow human beings.
     We consume pornography at an alarming rate, violent movies are normal fare in theaters, and broken homes have become an all too common thing. All of this is due to objectifying our fellow person and making them less than a creation in God's image. Men in our culture are encouraged to view women as sexual objects to be consumed and forgotten. Women feel this pressure and have begun embracing styles and social behaviors that only a short time ago would have been shameful. This open lack of shame and lack of reluctance to view sex and violence openly, or even be appalled by it, is due to our culture burning into us the need to serve ourselves at the cost of others. People have been transformed from beings with whom we should relate and have concern for, to vehicles for the fulfilling of our desires and objects for our entertainment. Is it any wonder we see children gunned down in our schools? Is it any wonder divorce is common,when relationships are given up on as soon as our partner stops thrilling us? Sexuality has moved from sacredness to a place of depraved consumption. People have begun to be viewed as objects for destruction or, at least open ridicule and scorn, when they stand in the way of our desire or convenience, or opinion. Movies are filled with the kind of thoughtless violence that we see spilling into our schools and streets. The cure for this is meaningful relationship.
     A restoration of relation is the only thing that can save us from this sad predicament.We need to begin to separate ourselves from the false reality that the movie screen and the social networks have put up before us and begin to relate to our fellow beings again on a closer level. We need to see their pain and joy, struggles and victories and not just see them, but feel them as our own and seek another's best in the same way we seek our own. That is the nature of relationship. And it is the nature of relationship with God. He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us; to live by His standards. Not so that He can limit our experiences, but so that, in Him and with Him, every experience may be novelty and we may finally assuage that burning desire within us all: the desire for that love, acceptance, and satisfaction that only comes through relationship with Jesus Christ.

May God bless and keep you.

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