Friday, April 23, 2010

Who is Your Greatest Friend?

Mary Magdalene, after a painting by Ary Scheff...

Image via Wikipedia

I have been looking at the circles of friends that are found in Jesus' life.  There is one friendship that I have not discussed yet.  It was a relationship of absolute trust and confidence.  It is a relationship that is full of love, acceptance, and pleasure.  It is the foundation of all other relationships that Christ extended and extends to others.  It is Jesus' relationship with His Father.  The relationship that Jesus had/has with Father God is the basis of all redemptive, restorative, caring, loving, trusting relationships.  In fact I will go so far as to say apart from this relationship there is no ability on our part to ever experience true intimacy.  To Know and be known is quite a thing.

As I have said in a previous post it seems that God has created us with a longing to know and be known.  It is built into our very soul.  It is an integral part of our biology, and it streams from our spirit.   The problem is that we tend to replace the order of things in a way that leads us to unsatisfactory fulfillment of this longing.  In God's creation this longing of being known follows this order: God (Matthew 22:37-38), Spouse (Matthew 19:6), Family (more spiritual than biological see Mark 3:33-34), and Friends (John 15:12-15).  Interestingly we can have differing levels of intimacy with all of these, but without intimacy with God then the rest are susceptible to disappointment and disillusionment.  Broken fellowship with God leads us into broken fellowship and intimacy with others.  Love seems to be a central theme of all these relationships.  However, this love starts with our relationship with God.

So then how to we cultivate a relationship with God?  How does love play into this relationship?  How does this relationship allow other relationships to fall into Place?

As in any relationship a relationship with God takes investment of time and energy to grow.  One can hardly expect that a relationship to grow when the time spent relating to that person is limited.  Often people do not spend much time with God and the wonder, "Why is it that I do not experience closeness with God?"  The core of a relationship with god involves continuous prayer, meditation, and study of God's Word.  It is often the  case that we are satisfied with occasional prayer, devotional thinking, and study of books about God.   The latter list is one of the reasons frankly that so many do not have the intimacy with God that they long for. 

Luke 18:1-8, Luke 21:36, Romans 12:12, Acts 1:14, Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:2, and 1 Peter 4:7 all deal with the persistence of prayer in Christian life.  Payer is our devoted communication to God.  It is our opportunity to thank Him for what He has given, honor Him for who He is, intercede for others that need Him, and lift our own needs to Him.  Brother Lawrence "Practicing the Presence of God" lived a life of focused devotion to God at all moments of the day.  He shared:

Brother Lawrence felt it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action, as by prayer in its time. His own prayer was simply a sense of the presence of God, his soul being at that time aware of nothing other than Divine Love. When the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and thanking Him with all his might. Thus his life was a continual joy.  (Forth Conversation)

And

Hold yourself in prayer before God, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man's gate. Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord. If your mind sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him, do not become upset. Trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to re-collect it. The will must bring it back in tranquility. If you persevere in this manner, God will have pity on you.  (Eighth Letter)

The image of a dumb or paralytic beggar is certainly an image that I can identify with when it comes to prayer.  I am thankful that God is compassionate and kind to earnest followers.

May your prayer life enliven your soul and light your path.  Blessings to you.

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