Summary: Today, we’re going to be talking about the one relationship which impacts all the others, our relationship with God. Harry Staiti puts it this way, “Of all our relationships, God is the most important. Your relationship (or lack thereof) with God will inf
I and Thou
Timothy Smith tells the story of Chris. Chris was in his mid-thirties, married and living in Pennsylvania with his wife and two high energy little boys. Chris was always physically fit, ate a healthy diet, but one day he went to the Doctor because of some pains he was having. That led to another Doctor, and another and he was diagnosed with a rapidly moving and deadly cancer. His only hope, really, was a miracle. A short time after he got his diagnosis, he emailed a colleague of mine these profound words. He wrote, “I had an interesting conversation with a University of Pennsylvania chemo nurse today. She said they treat several hundred patients each week. I was surprised to learn from her that many terminal cancer patients don’t face the reality that they may die, and stay in a state of, ‘It’s not going to happen to me.’ That reality surprised me and reminded me of something I read in a little book entitled, Tuesdays with Maury. It’s about a college professor who’s slowly dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This professor meets with his former professor, Maury, each Tuesday to discuss various topics of life. In the chapter on death, he makes an interesting comment, ‘Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. ’” Chris wrote: “Something that’s really been made clear to me through my cancer experience is that I’m going to die. And so, when I think about what matters to me now, it is my relationships; my relationship with God through Jesus, and my relationships with my wife, my boys and with others. Beyond that, everything is trivial. It’s through this realization I am finding more meaning, joy, and excitement in my life with cancer, than I ever did when I didn’t know I had it. Believe it. Do things differently. Your friend, Chris.” And then Timothy Smith writes, Chris’ miracle never came, he died at 37 but with his relational world intact. He got it. He got it about the fact that life is really about relationships.
You and I were created for relationship: with one another and with God. How does the Bible and our faith guide us in those relationships? How do we experience the fullness of those relationships? That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this series. Today, we’re going to be talking about the one relationship which impacts all the others, our relationship with God. Harry Staiti puts it this way, “Of all our relationships, God is the most important. Your relationship (or lack thereof) with God will influence all other relationships.”
Now we need to recognize that some of us have a very close and intimate relationship with God while others of us don’t really know what it means to have a relationship with God. What does a relationship with God look like? How do we connect with God? How do we experience that and grow into that so that we might experience all that God intended for us when he created us and chose to be in relationship to us. Video: How do you connect with God
A lot of people don’t connect with God. In fact, some religions teach that you can’t have a personal relationship with God, that God is a distant and impersonal deity. But that is not true with Judaism and Christianity. Throughout the Scriptures, God is a loving God who is always with us and desires a closer personal and intimate relationship with you, That, I believe, is one of the first messages of the Bible, that in the Garden of Eden God created man and woman to be in relationship to Him. God desired that and so each afternoon he would come down and walk in the garden in the cool afternoon breeze and just talk and be with Adam and Eve, It is also one of the last messages of the Bible, that God loved us so much that he sent His son to be with us, to love us and ultimately die for us on the cross so that which had separated us from God would be removed and we would once again have a close personal relationship with our Creator.
God wants more than anything to be in relationship with us. That is how we are meant to live out our lives and our faith. You will remember when Jesus was asked what was most important in life and faith, he answered relationally. You are to love the Lord your God with all heart, mind, soul and strength and you are to love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:35-40 Relationships are very important. We were meant for relationship. Not only that but God created a need and desire for relationships with us. None of us were meant to live out our lives alone. So God created within the very fabric of our being a longing to be in relationship with one another and God. Paul Jones writes “The Art of Spiritual Direction”, Deep within our souls, actually as proof that we have a soul, is a profound something that will not be quieted. Experienced negatively, this something seems an emptiness, an ache, an anguish, an incompleteness, accompanied by an innate cry for it to go away. Experienced positively, it is a yearning, a craving, a desire, a hope.” Karl Barth speaks of this active longing as our ‘universal homesickness.” All of us have a homesickness to be in relationship with the one who created us. And we try to fill that longing and need with many things from possessions and people, to drugs and alcohol. But they all leave us wanting because the only thing which will fill that void is a relationship with God Himself. This is why Mick Jaggar will continue to sing, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” because everything else leaves us feeling empty. U2 captured it in their song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Because you won’t find what you’re looking for until you get an intimate relationship with God. Psalm 62 says “My soul finds rest in God alone.”