At the start of the year I made a resolution. I’m not big on new year’s resolutions because I kind of see them as fake starts- like bad reasons to make new goals based on the calendar rather than on a true desire for a timely change. Plants don’t grow at a rate determined by what date it is- they change because of factors like sunlight, temperature, moisture and nutrients. And global climate change has shown us how plants’ growth changes as a result of these factors rather than what particular moment in time is may be.
Back to my resolution: Early this year I decided that I would work on my relationships and communication. With so many friends and family members abroad, it takes a great deal of effort to stay in touch. I’ve been very grateful for tools like Facebook and Myspace to facilitate staying in touch. It’s provided me with reminders that their lives go on and change right alongside my own and I can see some of what goes on in their days. I came to realise however that what was developing was an interactive show that I was viewing as an outsider. Like watching Big Brother I could see their actions and feel some of what they felt. I could voice my opinion and encourage or taunt them. But what’s happened is that we haven’t seen our friendships grown or strenthened. They’ve stayed the same or in some cases it’s allowed us to keep contact very minimal.
One particular relationship in my life that thankfully has not been relegated to the form of a 15″ screen came to mind recently and I realised that it’s actually very similar in nature to those that have been. I suddenly have become aware of how the other individual is tired of a life of status updates, comments, ‘likes’ and only the occassional private message. And as a result of the way I often choose to relate to this person, our relationship has become increasingly shallow and I wonder how well we’re really acquainted.
I, like many Christians, find myself ‘commenting’ God, posting brief messages on his wall just to let him know I’m thinking of him, or just ‘liking’ something he’s done or said. I’ve fallen in a terrible discipline of not investing my time, energy or presence in our relationship. What would become of a marriage lived that way or of children brought up that way? Not only would the people not grow but their relationships would suffer.
I know so many followers of Christ who when asked how their prayer lives are or what that even looks like for them, they’ll confidently say they spend time with God throughout the day, thanking him or saying brief prayers. While doing that is enormously important to our relationships with him, it simply cannot amount to that alone. Just as you cannot expect to know someone deeply via texting with only the occassional coffee meetup, you cannot begin to know the Endless One this way.
So how many of us are living the lie of belief (‘I believe in God’, ‘I believe I know him’) and not building a relationship with him (‘I know him intimately more and more’)?
Many of us shudder at the mention of the word I’m about to use because of the connotation it’s taken on and the way it’s been used as a weapon against people’s consciences rather than as an agent of healing. But it remains a word- or rather a necessary action for the follower of Christ (notice I say follower, not believer). Repentence.
Repent, for God’s kingdom is close! Change your mind- change your allegience- change your relationship with Him!
I reckon that if the Queen or the President were on Facebook a LOT of people would be in their ‘friends’ lists. A lot of people would leave comments. But a very tiny minority would walk with and know them deeply.
So where does our personal and communal relationship with God fall? How often do we ‘see’ him? Are we afraid of meeting up and investing time and our lives into this relationship? What keeps us from doing so?
The comforting thing is this: God is so gracious. He’s not condemning or rejecting us based on what rubbish followers we may be (nor is he accepting and loving us more if we’re great followers). Just like one of those friendships where you feel as if you were never apart after years of having not seen one another- you pick up where you left off- God remains waiting for us. He doesn’t want us to visit him and spend our time apologising and grovelling or to allow us to feel so bad that our relationship is forever damaged. He just wants to move on.
So will you spend quality time with him today? Listening to him. Loving him deeply. Weeping or laughing hysterically.
He’s waiting eagerly.