Summary: What people want is a key to purposeful life. They want answers to where they are. They want to grasp something higher and bigger than themselves. They reach for a deeper connection beyond the boring routine of where they live and what they do.
“Bridging the Distance”
Sermon Topic: Being in relationship with God
Airport terminals are entertaining venues to hang out if you cannot afford the movies! The most interesting storylines involve watching people arriving or leaving. The couple huddled – more like a locked embrace – as she struggles to let him go through security. My recent trip to British Columbia found me in Kelowna’s terminal waiting for Glenys to arrive. I was watching a family reunion where two young parents were meeting up with the son’s parents to present to them their grandchild that they were seeing for the first time!
The emotions of greetings and farewells speak to the challenge of distance relationships. It takes a lot of work to keep the connections open and the fire burning when people are so far away.
If there is one thing God wants of us very desperately in these days that one thing is RELATIONSHIP. I sincerely believe God wants to renew our relationship with him and is looking to bridge the distance between us. For some, the first step of bridging the distance is having a relationship with God to begin with. We live in a time when thousands of people are religious but are not in relationship with God. (Batman foe, Two Face, is characteristic of their lives where one reality exists on Sunday and quite another Monday to Saturday). They may go to church and sing the songs but they are not in relationship. They may be involved in all kinds of good deeds for people in their community but they are not in relationship. Some of them go to youth group, Bible camp, music camp, sponsor children or go on mission’s trips but are not in relationship. They pay their bills, don’t cheat on their taxes and provide for their families but they are not in relationship. They care about their neighbors and pitch in where they can to help in any way possible but they are not in relationship. They live morally and live life fully, embracing a value system that would make us proud to be called their friend but they are not in relationship. While all these realities are note-worthy and commendable practices, these cannot replace, repair or rectify a life that is not in relationship with God.
Even for some Christians God is a distant deity and knowing him carries its restrictions. He must be feared, not enjoyed. For others God is a sidebar of their schedule in Easter or Christmas, during Mass or other similar religious highlights.
The Christian gospel declares that God is with us (Isaiah 7:14) and desires relationship – one-on-one, personal interaction! In the book of Revelation in the Bible – a book of prophecy – God promises that we will be his children when he opens heaven for those who have believed on Jesus Christ as their Saviour and God. He says to us in Revelation 21:7 “All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
You are in a faith stage in your relationship with God. Did you know that? I have borrowed the words of a commentator who provides wonderful descriptions of all three stages of faith found in Psalm 84. These are the mystic rapture, the pilgrim quest and the lonely vigil.
1. The Mystic Rapture
Last October the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist monk, visited Canada. He started his tour in Ottawa to a crowd of 5,000 people and Parliament gave him an honorary Canadian citizenship. Wherever he has travelled, thousands have congregated to hear his words. What people want is a key to purposeful life. They want answers to where they are. They want to grasp something higher and bigger than themselves. They reach for a deeper connection beyond the boring routine of where they live and what they do. They cannot escape that nagging question, “is there something more?” The question points out the void in the human spirit that only finds an answer when God is present.
The Psalm writer shows us how God fills that void. Psalm 84 is a hymn sung by a choir called the Sons of Korah. They begin their hymn of praise with the words of verses 1-2…
These verses describe the first stage of faith-relationship. The person in this stage of faith has a relationship to God that may be formal, even professional in a sense but their faith connects them to God just the same. They experience God through public worship that is positive and fulfilling. The activity of worship engages them and is regular and frequent. It guides and governs much of the planning and activity of a person’s life.
This hymn’s theme centers on one truth – communion (RELATIONSHIP) with God. While the Psalm writer draws attention to the breath-taking architecture and magnificent craftsmen-ship of the Tabernacle of God (v.1) he quickly reminded himself as much as he is informing us in verse 2 that the edifice is not the important thing. RELATIONSHIP with God is the important thing. One writer refers to the Psalm writer’s desire as “longing for the experience of God with the acuteness of famishing hunger.” Another writer suggests, “It is not enough to be in the courts of God but to actually experience God.”