When I was in 4th grade, my best friend introduced me to an interesting proposition. You see, there were these two girls in our class that wanted us to be their boyfriends; "Going Steady" as they put it. Well, I was still firmly entrenched in the whole "cooties" philosophy of relationships and the thought of spending time with either one of these girls was quite repulsive to a lad who still donned a cape at home and pretended his bike was the Batmobile!
So the reply to my pal was, "oooh gross, no way!" But then he added
an unexpected element of intrigue! Perhaps reacting to frequent
rebuffings, the girls informed my friend that there would be "something
in it for us." In return for being their "steadies", they would give
us a gift every day as long as the arrangement continued. With
curiosity, I asked my friend, "what will they give us"? He replied,
"oh, one day it might be an apple, the next day it could be chocolate
milk, something different each day."
With this invitation
extended, I reasoned that I could risk cootie infection for free
stuff! So I agreed to go steady with "Laura", and he did likewise with
Melinda. That night, I excitedly told my mom about this new
arrangement, but her response was negative. "You’re too young to be
going steady." With this piece of parental information, I let down my
"girlfriend" the next day. Although she was disappointed, I was
actually relieved because there was no piece of fruit that could make
me forget that the girl was just plain ugly. Besides, crime-fighters
must accept the reality of living alone in a darkened world and simply
do not have the time for women!
Indeed, no matter how great the gift is, it is simply not the right
motivation for entering a relationship. As a matter of fact, if you’re
in it for the gift there simply is no relationship. The other person
is simply a means to gratify your selfish desires. An authentic
relationship with Christ is no different. Many view Christ only as an
escape route. The way out of hell and the way into heaven. This is
due to the way we’ve removed discipleship from Christianity. We’ve
made discipleship something you do after you "get saved" as opposed to
discipleship being the path of salvation. As Deitrich Bonhoeffer
wrote, "Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity
without Christ. It remains an abstract idea, a myth.”
In other words, you can’t have a relationship with a gift, it is
with the person who bestowed the gift. There is absolutely no doubt
that when we are found in Christ and Christ in us, that we are secure
in Him forever, even after our physical death! But there must have
been something that gave Paul reason to sing in prison right? And
there must have been something that moved James to write "I count it
all joy" wasn’t there?
Jesus said he was "the way, the truth, and the life". Jesus "the
way" used to conjure up images of a dirt road that led to heaven. Now
I see "the way" more accurately as a road that leads to the Father.
Jesus "the truth" used to make me think of doctrine and dogma. Now I
see it as light to the path that leads to the Father. Jesus "the life"
used to make me think of crossing the heavenly finish line as I draw my
last breath. Now I see it as the pure, thirst quenching water that
enables me to walk the path to the Father.
"This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3)