Saturday, June 04, 2016

Develop a relationship with Jesus

In the spirit of my last post, I would like to unpack this phrase.  What does it mean?  Who can develop a relationship with Jesus?  Why would you want to?  Jesus is in heaven, right?  What if he is not interested in developing a relationship with the person?  Doesn't he have a say in it?  What are the ground rules for such a thing?

Obviously I am pouring on the snark, so please don't stop reading.  I am not really so negative all the time.  But this phrase just bugs me, largely because I don't know who started it, what they meant theologically, or where it is in the Bible. 

To develop something means that the thing is already there.  If I develop land, the land is existent.  I building on it, bring in sewers, electrical wires, etc., but the land is there and, supposedly, I am increasing its value (to people and monetarily) through this work and investment. 

So maybe the person means to start a relationship, or to build on the relationship already there.  Not sure.  There has to be something before it can be developed.

So what kind of relationship do we have with Jesus?  I would say that we have many metaphors or pictures in the Bible that are given to help us understand the nature of the relationship.  They are not totally metaphors because they are theological true in some cases instead of just being word pictures for understanding, but I think the point is that those are the ground rules.  And all the metaphors or analogies or whatever you want to call it have one thing in common:  inequality, and thus inferiority on our parts, and thus subordination of will and purpose. 

A relationship with Jesus is one where we are unequally yoked with him.  He is doing the heavy lifiting, and we are submissive to his authority.  He is calling the shots.  He is the older brother, we are the younger siblings.  He is the shepherd.  He is the vine, the core part that brings the sustenance. He is the master/teacher, we are the learners. 

A relationship is not supposed to be onerous work.  If building a relationship with someone is unenjoyable tasks, what is the attraction?   I say this because the answer to developing a relationship is always prayer, Bible study, church attendance, giving, witnessing, all needful and of great importance.  But  where is the laughter and joy?  Where is the wonder?  Where is the thankfulness?  Where is the empathy for God?

The phrase puts us in the driver's seat, and I think that is why it bothers me, because we are so dependent on his grace.  

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