Sunday during Sam’s chat about the story of Samuel, my mind drifted toward this question: what makes a perfect relationship?
Kind of a weird question, I know. Seems more like an article from a Cosmo or some self-help guru on the Today Show, but let’s play around with it a bit…
First, some context for the question. Sam asked us ‘what does Samuel’s story tell is about God’? When our Gospel Community went over the story last week (and I think it was mentioned Sunday as well) that God is a personal God. Contrasted with a ‘deistic’ God who is distant and removed from us and either doesn’t care enough to make himself personal or is too impotent to to do so, the God of Samuel’s story speaks with Samuel and listens to and responds to Hanna, Samuel’s momma. With Samuel, especially, this God has a one-on-one relationship.
But here is the kicker: the God in this story is personal but can this God Become MORE personal? Is Samuel’s relationship with God perfect? Or could it be better?
The answer to these questions come much later in the biblically narrative when this God does, in fact, make it more personal. This God comes from Heaven to Earth when the God-Man, Jesus, walks and talks and listens and touches and eats with his people…imagine it…God walking with you…talking with you…eating with you…in person! (Kind of sounds like the beginning of the biblical narrative but I digress)
Sounds great right? Is your imagination running wild? But there is another problem. Another aspect of what it means to have a perfect relationship…eternity. Not only are perfect relationships material but they are eternally materially. Death destroys all relationships. No relationship escapes the Grim Reaper’s grasp…or does it?
One again, This God gives an emphatic yes in the death and resurrection of Jesus, telling us that His relationship with us, his deep love and care for us, will last forever. How? Because on the cross Jesus lost his perfect relationship with his Father. ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus cries. We deserve to be forsaken by God but rather than let us succumb to our fate, Jesus takes our fate upon himself (displaying another aspect of perfect relationships: complete other-centeredness). Because Jesus’ relationship was broken for us, our relationship with God is restored and restored eternally because Jesus arose materially to once again walk, talk, touch, and eat with his people. Death could not defeat Jesus and death can no longer defeat our relationships-with God or with others.
May we all see the perfect relationship: completely material, completely other-centered, completely eternal. May we see it in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And may we not just see it but experience and celebrate it’s tastes now as we long for all relationships to be completely restored when Jesus returns and we see him, our wondrously personal God, face-to-face.