Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's life all about?

I have been blessed in life with many good and godly mentors.  I honesty don't know where I'd be today if it weren't for these guys:  they met with me (often weekly), prayed with me and for me, invited me into their homes, taught me, and showed great patience with me.  This week I want to share two bits of wisdom from two of these mentors:

"Life is about relationships." - David English 

"Relationship trump everything." - Fr. Ben Sharpe 

These lines sum up a great thread of truth that runs throughout the Bible: humanity was made for relationships, both with God and with others.  Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that we were all made in God's image and likeness.  Part of image is God's relational nature.  Just as God relates to "Himself" as it were, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all relating to each other, so humanity is made for relationship.  And so, God made Adam and Eve for each other, the first human community.  But this community and the members of it, were in relationship with God.  Genesis 3 tells us that God walked in the garden in the cool of morning, implying that it was God's custom, as it were, to come and walk in his garden with Adam and with Eve.  As the Episcopal Prayer Book's liturgy says, "In [his] infinite love, he made us for [himself]..."  Even after the fall, when Adam and Eve sinned, God still related to his people.  We see him talking to Cain in Genesis 4, and on and on through out the Bible.    This connection with God continues throughout the OT: whenever a man or woman knows God or sees Him, it is seen as a truly glorious thing.  So, Moses is lauded as the man who saw God "face to face". (Ex 33:11) And Jeremiah says,""Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me" (Jeremiah 9:23–24).  Into the NT, the value of having a relationship with God continues to be seen as the peak of human experience. So, Jesus says,  "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."  (John 17:3) Indeed, when someone asks Jesus what God wants from humanity (that is, what commandment is the most important), Jesus says: "" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."" (Matthew 22:37–40).  

Truly, life really IS about relationships.  Relationship involve actually relating with people (e.g. talking, listening, enjoying something with someone, suffering with someone, etc.) 

Some question for self-examination:
  • Am I living my life with the view that God and people matter most?  
  • Does my weekly schedule reflect this? 
  • What often fills up my time that is not relational?  (Some of this is necessary (like work, school, solitary recharge time for introverts, etc.  But keeping that in mind, it is  how can I put more priority on relationships in my life?)
  • What does it look like for me to make my life "about my relationship with God"?  How do I talk to Him? Listen to him?  Enjoy things with him?  Suffer as I am with him?
  • Do I have margins in my life that keep my time open for the people God would send into my life and/or for the people he has given to me (family, spouses, friends, etc.)? 
  • Do I treat the people I run into throughout the day or sit next to at church with the import and respect they deserve?

Now before you go and beat yourself up, remember that only Jesus is the perfect Friend, Spouse, Boss, Brother, etc.   And in that truth there is great comfort:  Though we are constantly running from relationship with God in our own little way, He is constantly pursuing us.  He is continually drawing to Himself those who are his.  

Church of the Good Shepherd's Values - Life is About Relationships: Life is about relationships: with God, with others and even ourselves (Matt 22:37-40). Therefore our ministry will be "life on life" as we encourage clergy and lay leaders alike to pour into the lives of others so that these people can in turn pour into others (2 Tim 2:2). We strive to be relationally rich people, even at the expense of being poor in other areas (e.g. possessions, travel, social standing, comforts, success as the world defines it, security, career-advancement, etc.). We also know that relationships are inherently inefficient, and so, we intentionally seek to have margins in our lives in order to give a significant amount of time each week to our relationship with God and with others. This includes time with our church family, with our own families, and with our neighbors, and coworkers.