Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The High priority of Relationship

The question came up with a brother as to what is God's highest priority and what does he care about above all else.   An article by Heidi and Rolland Baker made the bold statement that Jesus only cares about relationship.  Article entitled Relationship in the Kingdom While I am not prepared to defend that assertion completely, I do believe that Jesus cares about relationship deeply.  It is difficult to discern what he cares about most - but I would state that much of what God prioritizes stems back to some form of relational connection between himself and Man.  This brother I was communicating with stated that God also cares about Truth, justice, righteousness, and destroying the devil.  I agree, but I also see the high priority of relationship woven throughout all these concepts as well.  This kind of an exchange, when it doesn't spiral into a debate, can be very healthy and constructive - helping us see more clearly and deepening our understanding of God and his heart.  We need each other's viewpoints to see the bigger picture.  Here are some of my thoughts about relationship that I shared with him.

Truth, Justice, righteousness, and destroying the devil all have restoration of relationship at their core. I see the heart of God expressed in his desire to form relationship with man upon his creation. I see a beautiful relationship enjoyed eternally between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit displayed in the way Jesus spoke about his relationship with Father and his dependence upon the Holy Spirit. I see sin breaking that fellowship between God and man, and then God restoring that relationship through Jesus' sacrifice.  Jesus tore the veil in two so we can enjoy fellowship/communion with him the way he intended in the garden of eden with Adam. I see God passionately pursuing relationship with a people through Abraham and the nation of Israel and then I see him grieved, many times in terms reserved for marriage(Hosea) when they were adulterous(another relational term). God loves to call people who know his heart friends, and he now calls us his friends, even calling us his bride and his children - all relational terms. I see love as the main thing since God IS Love - and Love's best expression occurs within mutual relationship. God's love for a rock is limited since it can't love him back freely. We have to ask, why did God create man if not because he desired relationship with him? Yes, God could have created robots who did everything he told them, but he desires those who will freely love him back. God does not need this love, but he enjoys it because of who he is.  God is love, and he chose to include us in the fellowship circle of love he has been enjoying for eternity within the Trinity.
Relationship in Truth
As God removes lies that the devil and the world has told us, usually about Him, we can enter deeper relationship with him. As we see Him more clearly, the tree of life, we learn to depend less upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We understand that the world doesn't need us to be "right" about everything, but it needs us to be more "alive". The world needs Christians who are able to share the indwelling life and love of Christ, the living water, not just tell them how wrong their behavior is. It's like telling a dog it is wrong to bark,  people are going to live out of their nature and they need to be shown a better way.  Yes, Jesus told people the truth, but he also lived it out relationally with his disciples. Personally, my desire is becoming to know Jesus more personally and deeply so that his life oozes out of my life - not just in words, but in actions and in truth.
It is interesting to note that the word "know" when Jesus' said, "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free" is a relational term. The greek word for "know" is Ginosko, sometimes used as a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. When Matthew says, "Joseph knew not Mary"(Matt. 1:25), he was using the word Ginosko. When we come into a right relationship with Jesus, the truth, then we can really say we "know" the truth. We don't just know about Jesus, we actually know Jesus relationally. Don't take the analogy of intercourse too far, I only use it to illustrate the depth and richness of the Greek language, and the depth of what Jesus was saying in relational terms.
1 John 1:1 - "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life." John the apostle had a relationship with a real person, Jesus Christ,  he saw him, touched him, and lived life with him. We can have a similar relationship with him because he lives in us. We can commune with him, hear his voice, and speak to him in the same way.

Spiritual Truth is found in a person, Jesus Christ, not just an ideal.  Truth administered apart from a right relationship with God becomes dead, pharisaical religion. We are products of western thinking that values facts and research over anything spiritual or experiential.  We need both to know the truth accurately.
Relationship in Righteousness
Righteousness is not so much about doing all the "right" things, but is more about restoring a "right" relationship with God and this includes the removal of sin so we can see clearly and enjoy relationship with him again. In the parable of the prodigal son,  I love how the Father wrapped his arms around his son and loved him unconditionally, even though he had just come from the pig-pen. I realized at one point in my Christian life that I was just like the older brother, and all my righteousness was just filthy rags. True righteousness is relational because it can only be accomplished through abiding in Him. Those who abide in him will bear much fruit.  Those who don't abide in him(another relational term), can bear NO lasting fruit.  As Heidi and Rolland Baker say in the book There is always enough, "Fruitfulness flows from intimacy".

Relationship restored in destroying the works of the devil and justice
What the first Adam lost, the second Adam has paid the price to restore and has poured out his spirit into a people through whom he is destroying the works of the Devil. What was lost at the fall is being restored through the sons of God, filled with his heart and his spirit, in close relationship with him. As God administers justice and the works of satan are destroyed through a people who are in union with him, right relationship is restored throughout the earth and "the" Truth (Jesus Christ) is revealed.

As truth, righteousness, and life with God is lived out relationally, it moves from our head into our heart.  I believe some may have trouble with the concept of relationship because the church in general has done a poor job of being relational and is uncomfortable with it.  It is easier to give people a list of rules, offer them some self-help, throw in a few programs and bible studies, and call it Christianity.  Christianity without a relationship with Christ and his body is not really the Christian life at all,  it is just another religious system.


No comments:

Post a Comment