What’s the Bottom Line?
From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation the unifying theme of the Scriptures is relationship - vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationship with our fellow man. From the very beginning we see God reaching out to Adam in the garden in the cool of the day, reaching out for relationship. All down through the ages we see the Maker reaching out for relationship with His creation, reaching out to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Job, Elijah, and countless others whom He took into His confidence, with whom He related as Friend with friend, to whom He revealed the secret counsels of His will.
Jesus said that the old covenant depended on these two things: love God, love your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). John tells us that the new covenant is also summed up in these two things: love God, love one another (1 John 4:7-21). And if the whole point is relationship then we should spend a significant amount of time and energy developing these relationships, learning the meaning of love from our vertical relationship with God (He loved us to the point of offering His Son as the sacrifice for our sins) and expressing that love horizontally to our fellow man in meaningful actions, not empty words (1 John 3:18). And in order to do that we first have to take our fellow man seriously. We need to become builders of bridges and destroyers of walls when it comes to relationships. To quote C. S. Lewis, "We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is in fact the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner, no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment."
It's all about relationship. It has always been about relationship and it will always be about relationship. If anyone ever asks, that's the true meaning of life: relationship, vertical first and horizontal second. In the final analysis nothing else even comes close to mattering. School, work, play, even the organizational structure some call "church", these are only important in terms of the relationships we build along the way. Everything else pales in comparison to the experience of relating to Him personally and sharing what rubs off on us in the process with our fellow man. God's idea of "Church" as seen in the New Testament is people, not buildings and organizations (1 Peter 2:5-10). That’s why "the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven" (Hebrews 12:22-24) weighs so heavily in His plan for the ages.
Did I mention it's all about relationship? And the only way to have really healthy human relationships instead of dysfunctional ones is to make sure our relationship with God is healthy. And the only way to know the Father is through the Son (Matthew 11:25-30). And true disciples of the Son abide in His Word (John 8:31-32), which is why being in the Word daily is the only prescription for a healthy vertical relationship that will express itself horizontally as well.
So the bottom line is this: drink milk by reading the Word (1 Peter 2:1-3) and eat solid food by doing the Word (James 1:22; John 4:34), and the “newness of life” into which we have entered through faith in Christ (Romans 6:4) will begin to spring UP in worship to the Father (John 4:13-24), and flow OUT in service to our fellow man (John 7:37-39). It's all about relationship, and the doing flows from the being!
Stephen T. Kia
Tuesday, July 24, 2001