Thursday, October 15, 2009

What the Christian Journey is Really About?

What is the spiritual journey about?
I used to think it was about knowledge: knowing the right doctrines, agreeing with them, believing them with all my heart. But the longer I know Jesus, the more I see that he has loved me and put up with me when I believed "wrong" content, and he clearly loves, grows, works in and is present by His Spirit in and among people who hold very different views of right doctrine. Sure, it's possible to go too far, off the rails, out in space...but within the boundaries of walking with Christ there is great diversity, and that ought to lead us to humility. Knowledge puffeth up, saith St. Paul.
Some people think it is about practice: either liturgical practice (right rites!) or ethical practice (good works). We can find biblical warrant for these things, but again, there is so much diversity that Jesus, by His Spirit, seems to put up with.
Yesterday, it dawned on me (and I'm hoping this doesn't mean I'm incredibly dense) that it has always and only been about: RELATIONSHIPS.
Think about it:
God came in Christ to demonstrate his love and compassion for us - the expected response is for us to believe in him, to put our faith in him -- and then to follow him.
Those are relationship words - it is about an I-Thou relationship with God himself! (Thanks, Martin Buber.)
And then, Jesus tells us over and over again that the nature of our new relationship with him is that it transcends all other relationships: his mother and brothers are those who do God's will; he came to set parent against child, etc. It isn't that Jesus thinks such relationships are bad -- remember when he raised the son from the dead and "gave him back to his mother"? He obviously cared for his own mother, as he arranged for her care from the cross. What he is doing, is telling us that when we enter into relationship with him, all our other relationships are now through and under him. "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ" applies, even to our families - especialy to our families!
So, with new eyes, we stop judging our parents and forgive them. We are charged not just to honor them but to love them, because we are charged to love everyone, even if in our particular case that's hard (I'm not talking about us, Mom!).
When we come to love and follow Christ, he places us within a fellowship of other believers, who we are expected to love - see 1 Corinthians 13! - not because of who they are or who we are, but because of who He is. In fact, we are told that his command is this: love one another (in the church) as he has loved us -- which was unconditionally and sacrificially, for our good and for God's sake.
The second half of most of (all of?) the epistles is a summary of ways to love one another, and ways to bolster relationships.
And then, we are sent out to be in relationship with people in the world, for their salvation, for the kingdom, in Christ's stead, for God's glory. So if you are a slave, remember who your real Master is and work as unto him!
This seems to mean that my boss, my kids' teacher, the teller at the bank and the guy driving in front of me, are all possibilities for redemptive relationships, no matter how long or short. I am always an agent of God's kingdom, looking to have right relationships for his name's sake.
Is this what it was always about?

1 comment:

  1. So true! It takes a heart full of Christ to push out all that judgement of other people stuff.