Summary: We can relate to God as Friend and Brother through Jesus.
Most Canadians will say they believe in god. Now of course, what that means will vary greatly, and I suspect that for a good number of those who say they believe in God it is not something they have deeply examined or thought about. It might be like saying, “I believe that people have walked on the moon – I saw a little news clip and have seen the pictures”. There is no personal knowledge, and it hasn’t really had much of an impact on daily life, but there is a “belief” that it happened. People in this situation, I think, have a loose recognition that there is more to life than just this; they likely knew someone with a deep personal faith in God that they admired; they may have had an experience or two that is unexplainable by “normal” occurrences; and if there is a certain level of trust they are probably even willing to talk to you about it.
Jesus, on the other hand, is a different conversation. Ask people if they believe in God, you have a good chance of engaging conversation. But when we start to talk about Jesus, the conversation changes. I think it is because it now becomes personal, rather than nebulous. Of course it also narrows the conversation from “God” which will be understood vastly differently across the various religions of the world, to the God of Christianity.
Last Sunday I began my final series of sermons, which I’ve called “A Few of My Favorite Things”, by exploring our relationship with God the Father. Today, we turn to our relationship with God the Son.
As you know, I am a very visual person. One of the ways God speaks to me is through my imagination as I pray and listen to God. And part of the way I imagine God the Father is of the one always strong, at home, eager to love and support, forgive and restore, empower and send. And I imagine, sometimes, my life and vocation as lived out being sent forth from that “home”, knowing that God my Father is always there and I am always welcome to return at the end of a day’s work to relationship, a great meal, and a warm bed.
And when, in my imagination, I “go out to work”, I know I never go alone. I imagine it like me and Jesus, together, going out to work in this world, with the hope and intention and every effort being aimed towards the transformation of this world so that it is filled with the Kingdom of God – “your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Sometimes that work is like gardening – planting, weeding, watering. Sometimes that work is like war – fighting to defend the innocent, fighting against evil people who seek to exploit and destroy. And I imagine myself going out with Jesus, and taking my direction and instruction from Him. So if you ask me about my present, ongoing relationship with Jesus my response will very likely fall along those lines… He is my Lord (or “Boss”), and it is a delight to work for and with Him. He’s a good boss, He gives good direction, supplies everything I need, rolls up His sleeves and gets His hands dirty when the lifting is too heavy for one, He is never far away, the work is significant and meaningful and deeply, deeply enjoyable. As long as I do it His way. He is the kind of boss you can joke around with and you are eager to show up, the kind of boss who really actually loves you and has your best interests at heart.
Now, I use the term “boss” instead of “Lord” here, but don’t get the idea that it is an “employer-employee” kind of thing. Not at all. It is a family thing, but we are not equals. Jesus is my brother, my friend, but He remains in charge. And honestly, that is not hard for me. He knows better. He is more skilled. He is better able to see what needs to be done, why it is important, and what the best way to do it is. I am really, genuinely happy to follow, especially because I know Jesus has all my best interests at heart, will put me to work in the best place for me and for His Kingdom, and even if the work is hard it is always very, very worthwhile. And then the results are up to Him.
What do you think of that image of Jesus and my relationship with Him? Comments??
The Scripture: John 15:1-17
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.