A living relationship with God is like...
... a journey of twists and turns.
.... an adventure with highs and lows.
... a race requiring endurance and perseverance.
Try it yourself and you will likely find - it's almost impossible to describe a living relationship with God without using words that indicate or describe activity, change, or growth.
And there's good reason for that.
God is a God of Movement.
From the Spirit moving across the waters in Genesis, to the Christ calling the people to Eden Restored in Revelation, God is a God of movement. God moves towards us, seeking and finding us.Then God moves in us and through us and among us. God moves us away from conceit and selfishness. God moves us out of ourselves and towards others.
Never does God allow us to remain stagnant or static or stale. Never does God cease shaping and forming us. Never does God stop working (no matter how incrementally small the work may appear to be) to make us through the Spirit into the likeness of Christ.
Never are we left where we were found.
God is a God of movement.
So often we think of reconciliation as belonging to the macro-concerns of the world. But while those big "isms" call for the incredibly important work of bringing light to darkness, the work of reconciling is, in a basic way, worked out at a micro level. It begins within each of us. Within our own hearts. Within our own homes.
After all, it is sometimes much easier to love the one across the world than it is to love the friend who posts disagreeable things on Facebook, or the churchgoer who is always first in the potluck line, or the child who wakes us in the middle of the night, or the spouse who drops dirty socks on the floor.
But it is here that the work of reconciling starts. And, perhaps, this is where reconciliation ends, for many of us. If we are only able to ask for repentance for the wrongs we don't personally inflict, or forgiveness for the hurts we don't personally suffer, we haven't really done much of the work of being reconciled. Which means we simply won't be able to address those big, looming wrongs in ways that transcend vague ideas and instead connect heart and soul to create reconciliation that lasts.
If we want to change the world, we must start with those in front of us.
God creates us FOR each other. There's just no way around it.
God, the 3-in-1, is the original Community; Creator, Christ, and Spirit living, working, and growing together. Genesis 1:27 tells us we are made in this image.
Being-in-Community is thus woven into our spiritual DNA.
As convenient as it could be to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, make a confession, read our Bibles, and try to be on our best behavior all by ourselves, the truth is this -- our Christian faith is worked out in and through our relationships with each other.
We simply must have each other to transform into the likeness of Christ. We only become who God wants us to be in the process of offering our whole selves to others freely, and receiving others who offer themselves freely to us. As we live, work, and grow together, we are made again into the image of the triune God.
This is good news - God creates us FOR each other - and there's just no way around it!
Thanks be to God.
“Who do you say that I am?”
Peter had the right response. “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God.”
It’s clear from the rest of the gospel that Peter didn’t fully grasp the theological implications of his confession. But even as he wrestled, failed, and was restored, the one thing he seemed to fully understand was this- within the presence and love of Jesus was where he wanted to be.
“Who do you say that I am?”
How shall you and I answer?
We do not need to fully grasp deep theological concepts to confess Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God.
We just need a desire to be within the presence and love of Jesus. Because when it comes down to it, like Peter, that’s where we find Life. That’s where we want to be.
And that’s the right response.
It's so easy for us to adopt the names that others have given us. It's even easier for us to adopt the names we've given ourselves.
Lazy. Angry. Scared. Dumb. Unsuccessful. Failure.
No matter how many times we have heard these names, no matter how many times we have said these names, they are not who we really are.
Who we are is Beloved.
This is the simple, radical truth.
You are BELOVED.
Call yourself by your real name.
Most of us long to align our lives with God’s purposes and plans for us. We want to know our Abba God (and know that *we* are known.) We want to hear Jesus’ voice (and know *we* are heard.) We want to follow the Spirit’s leading (and know *we* are being led.)
The disciples who encountered Jesus on the lakeshore as told in Luke 5:1-11 did not know the details of what they were being called to do, or where they were being called to go. They *did* know Who was calling them, and even though their understanding was incomplete, they knew they wanted to be *with* Jesus.
That was enough. Eventually they would understand that they had been called “by God, to God, for God.” But before that Knowing was complete, they just wanted to be in the presence of Jesus. And so they followed. And it was enough.
Do you ever trouble over Christ’s call to you? Do you ever worry that you don’t have it all mapped out? Do you ever think you are hopelessly confused about what-comes-next?
Just be in the presence of Jesus. Seek the Someone. That’s your calling. Let that be enough.