Living within Relationship

“They wanted to kill him all the more because he called himself Son of God, therefore making himself equal to God.”

John uses the story of the healing to lead into an argument about who Jesus is. The religious leaders didn’t like Jesus’ attitude toward the Sabbath. This struck right at the heart of their religious system. It struck at the very existence of their profession.

John often uses a “spiral” argument where he makes a statement and then restates drawing in an example, then restates drawing another example. I doubt that Jesus had this public discourse at that time in the Temple. Most likely John took Jesus’ statements and wove them into an argument in order to convince his readers who Jesus was.

Jesus was confounding the system and the people who perpetrate it. Instead of the idea of a remote God who could only be pleased if the worshipper follows all the rules and the rules about rules, Jesus brought the concept of relationship.

I am the Son of God, says Jesus. God is my Father. Remember in other places in the Gospels, it is recorded that Jesus calls us all into the relationship. He tells us to pray to the Father. He promises that we can be sons of God. This is competely revolutionary.

What is our experience with relationships? I think that I must have been borderline autistic (if there is such a thing) as a kid. Maybe not, but maybe just that I didn’t have any example of good relationships growing up. So I still have some difficulty that way. I can get withdrawn.

But then I experienced the relationship Jesus talks about. It changed everything. When Jesus talked about eternal life, it was in the present tense. It didn’t mean someday when you die and go to heaven. He almost never talked about that. Eternal life–life in relationship with God–begins when we enter into it. This preceeds understanding. It happens, then we begin to understand.

Forget about the rules. Jesus (and Paul quite forcefully) recognized that first comes relationship. Then in living in the relationship, we just naturally do the things that God wants us to do. Maybe not perfectly, but we grow into it.

Relationship comes first; then living according to the law. Not following all the rules first and then hoping that God will like you. The Pharisees had it backwards. So do today’s Pharisees.

I’ve spent many years now learning to live in relationship. How are you doing? Think about it.

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