Saturday, May 30, 2015

Identity in Christ - 24 (Friend of Christ)

Jesus said that even though we are "enslaved" to Christ, we are not slaves. As we mentioned before, everyone gives their heart to someone or something. And we serve whatever we give our hearts to.

We are not treated like slaves. Slaves would never know the heart and intentions of their master, but the Father has revealed his heart to us. He has asked us to call him Father. Slaves would be told what to do. The Father has invited us to be partners in his mission. True friends will be concerned with one another's hearts.
Of course, there are times we do not act like friends. We do not seek our friend's good. We are selfish. We do things that hurt and displease, sometimes purposefully. True friends will make it right and get right. Friendship is too valuable to waste.

  • God's Perspective
God says we demonstrate our friendship when we do what he says. This is not some complaining attitude on God's part. This is not a thundering pronouncement of doom and gloom.

God is holy. Everything he does and says is expressed from the foundation of his holiness.

God is love. Everything he does and says is expressed from the foundation of his love.

People want to separate. They love to empathize one over the other. But, God is both. He is motivated by both. He acts on the basis of both at the same time.

God created the world to demonstrate his nature. God created people to expand his family, and have relationship (friendship) with them.

(1) God designed people to live a certain way. Authentic living comes when people live as close as possible to God's design. So, God is motivated to convince as many as possible to live as he designed. So, he communicates that way, drawing our hearts back to him, motivating us to extend allegiance to him, and pointing our hearts to his lifestyle.

Doing what God says gets people more in line with their design. Doing what God says moves people to authentic, abundant living.

When God urges people to obey him, he is urging them to live in ways that more health and happiness.

(2) God is immutable. That means his character does not change. His actions may change. His strategy in solving problems occasionally change. But his motives and his values do not change. His ultimate goal does not change.

God seeks to create a family to share his love with. But God cannot live with sin. So, God acted -- and continues to act -- to remove the barrier of sin. As it is removed, God can establish relationships with people. And as its presence is removed, God can move deeper into these relationships.

(Or perhaps God is already "all in" with his relationships with people. And the presence of sin prevents people from moving closer, or blocks them from experiencing their relationship with God more.)
  • Living My Life
If the Father is "all in" with me, it creates an urge, a motivation in me to go "all in" with him. I wonder if what I do currently is sufficient to being a good friend. Usually, I conclude that it is not.

Of course, the set-new-rules, try-harder, failure cycle does nothing to resolve the issue. This cycle only brings self-induced guilt. God doesn't want more guilt. He wants you. He wants us. He wants his children, his family, to be around them. He does want them living in agreement with his word, because there will be no barriers between him and his children. Moreover, his children will be living according to their design.

I read an article recently, concerning an interview with psychologist Julie Gottman. Dr. Gottman was studying what leads to long lasting, healthy relationships. What is the difference between married couples, who get divorced, and those who remained happily married for 30 years. I don't plan to get into an in-depth analysis at this time. But I will mention that Dr. Gottman did some research and concluded that there are two responses that build long-term, happy relationships:
  1. Responding positively to any attempt to connect by the other person.
  2. Being alert for "things" in the other person's life to appreciate and be thankful for.
Practicing these things lead a positive cycle being established in the couples relationship. But what about the God-man relationship?
  1. God is always seeking to connect with us. What if I was more alert to God's voice, and more inclined and really listen?
  2. What if, instead of being distracted by my failures, I concentrated on being thankful for what God has done in and through my life? What if, instead of being consumed by what is not, I am thankful for what is? And look more for the good that is helping between me and God?

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