Saturday, February 13, 2010

Relationship vs. Research - Part 5

God desires a love relationship with you that gets further and deeper than the commandments. Behavior modification is not an end in itself. We may restrain ourselves more than the commandments, due to love. It is not about the checklist.

Remember the rich young ruler who kept the commandments but still lacked something? Remember Paul the apostle who claimed to be perfect concerning the law yet did not know Christ? We certainly do need to be reminded of boundaries and proper behavior. We need occasional encouragement toward forbearance. A checklist may prove helpful, but covering the points on a checklist with mere mechanical precision may be done purely mechanically or perfunctorily. If there are valid points on the checklist, they serve to facilitate the relationship. The relationship does not serve the checklist. Yes, we need dos and don’ts. Without a ditch on either side of the road we might forget the road. Regulations may serve to keep us from death but life is in the relationship.

Knowing God requires more than cerebral engagement and playing by the rules. It is a total engagement of the person. It is an engagement of the mind, but an engagement of the heart as well. It includes the body, the soul, our feelings etc. All of these must join together for a synthesis of complete personhood in pursuit of the One who pursues us completely. To know God is not to be up to speed on the divine data. To know God is to experience and interact with God by way of the whole person. We must experience God. And having experienced God by way of the whole person, there is required a response by the whole person. Having touched and having been touched, what will we now do?

Are we not accountable for what we experience? What will we do in response? Is a reciprocal response not due? Or do we count the experience like one more tourist attraction on a road trip? - Snap a picture or two, buy a souvenir and be on our way. Do we take it in like we might in the sighting of a falling star? - A moment of surprise followed by a wish and soon forget.

Our God is making himself known to us. There is a move in our direction. Will we believe and respond? We must be responsive and obedient. Our experience in God should be accountable to the written Word but we must be attentive to the living Word as God reaches for us in love today. To know his love is to experience his love, to be affected by his love. Our experience drives who we are, what we know and what we do. And there is a dynamic quality to all this which makes it more like an electrical storm than a controlled experiment.

In all of this God will endeavor to break free from our presuppositions. Rather, he would free us from presuppositions. The predictability we demand puts us in a box more than it confines the Almighty. It restrains our experience of him. Do you sense a call to the unfamiliar? Do you sense his deep calling you deeper? Have you noticed he is waiting on you? Will you respond? And if so, will you risk unguarded openness and vulnerability?

Can one be invulnerable and in deep love relationship simultaneously? Can one know without really being known? Is this what Genesis is getting at describing Adam as naked before the fall? He walked with God in complete vulnerability. It was after his sin that Adam covers himself. The relationship was broken. What if Adam had not covered himself? What if we did not cover ourselves, i.e., we did not come to God with less than complete vulnerability? To reduce our relationship with God to a mere act of reason is to cover ourselves. Eventually, something has to die for us to remain covered. Instead of really pursuing God, Adam was found hiding. If we pursue God without vulnerable openness before him, in actuality, are we not hiding as well? In our well-intentioned academic or reason-based pursuit of the Holy One, is God not responding, “Where are you?"

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