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Casual Relationships


“…His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore…” Revelation 14-18

“We treat God too casually," someone says, "as if He’s our buddy. But when people actually encounter Him, they fall on their faces before Him.”

I have no doubt my response would be the same as John's if confronted with this vision of a glorified Jesus Christ...yet...this time, something holds me back from nodding, from agreeing completely.

Scripture makes it clear God is awesome and worthy of honor, worship and praise. We might translate his early descriptions of himself in the Old Testament, Elohim, Adonai, as “God Almighty, Uncreated and Creator of Everything.” It was in this context that he speaks in the Book of Job: “Let’s talk, Job, and you teach me,” God says. “But first, let’s take a quick survey of who I am and what I’ve done.” And yes, Job ends up face to the floor.

Relatively quickly, though, God draws closer to us. He tells Moses his name, and then increasingly and most tellingly in the person of Jesus, describes himself in intimate relational ways—as savior, parent, sibling, friend; someone who is humble, whose yoke and burden are light, the embodiment of love. We still see him as judge, ruler, king—God Almighty—in the New Testament, but he describes himself as if these two sides of his character, the awesome God that he is and the friend that he is, are not different from each other.

Which makes me wonder—is it that we treat God too casually, or are we too casual about these other ideas of relationship—father, sibling, neighbor, friend; humility, service, love?

I’m not suggesting that we fall at the feet of our best friends every time they show up, but all you have to do is hear Jesus talk about friendship and love to know that our ideas of them are too small—“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends... I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

God tells us to honor our parents—honor them. He tells us in Proverbs that it is good for siblings to live together in peace. Then there is God’s near-heroic idea of a good neighbor, which pretty much covers everyone else we might have a relationship with. How often we fall short of these exhortations, if we think of them at all.

What if we saw relationship through His eyes? What if we understood love and family and friendship the way He meant us to and put it into practice? Then, perhaps, when we fall at His feet we wouldn’t be surprised that His first instinct is to stretch out his hand, speak words of comfort, and lift us up.

Image used by permission, Chris Koelle from the amazing graphic novel, The Book of Revelation

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