God is, first and foremost, about relationship. When we say that God is a Father, we’re talking about understanding the essence of God’s being in the context of relationship. And when we say “Father” it implies that He’s a family God at the very core of His nature.
I’ve talked a lot about God being relational on this blog, like here …
The reason for my repeated focus is because it’s so critically important for us to get. We find ourselves living in a culture where being an individual comes before relationship. And we think that’s normal. Therefore, we see ourselves as primarily alone. Which, by the way, contradicts the revelation we have from Scripture. Indeed, being a person apart from relationship is the very opposite of the nature of God.
There are no gods beside Him, but God has never been alone. For before anything existed, God was a Father in fellowship with His Son (see John 17:24).
God, by His very essence, is a relational God.
Therefore, we are also relational and never meant to be alone.
This goes way beyond the scope of this post, but we’ve basically inherited our view of God from paradigm-shifting leaders and brilliant thinkers like St. Augustine who married pagan Neoplatonism with the revelation of Christ in Scripture, which includes embracing the view of divine essence or divine nature as “indivisible simplicity.” So, now, we parrot what we’ve had handed down to us, saying things like “God is alone,” as if it were scriptural. But this contradicts His very nature and that of our relationship in Him.
It hasn’t always been that way in church history, but it has been in Western church history.
This “indivisible” view of God has had a devastating effect on our knowledge of Him. And it separates us in our minds from the reality of our union with Christ, which means separation in our minds from the Father.
In addition, we’ve turned Christianity into a philosophy which has gotten us in our own heads instead of His heart. Rational thought being defined now by what we can believe in our minds instead of finding out what God’s believes in His.
A side point, because we’re stuck in our own heads is also why we’ve made doctrine more important that relationship in our churches. Of course, this lofty standard inevitably slides into the morass of our particular interpretation of doctrine, which always divides us. I’ve also talked about that elsewhere on this blog.
Is this important? Yes! It’s at the very heart of what God is currently reforming in our thinking about the way we see Christianity itself. For we’ve wandered far away from the Truth that makes us free.
Because Truth is a Person, not a doctrine.
Just look at how John sees eternal life. I want you to hear the language (emphasis added)…
“the life was manifested, and we have seen,
and bear witness, and declare to you
that eternal life which was with the Father
and was manifested to us—
that which we have seen and heard we declare to you,
that you also may have fellowship with us;
and truly our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ.
And these things we write to you
that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:2-4 NKJV)
Are you seeing what John is saying here?
It’s not what is “eternal life” but where it is!
Do you see this fellowship with the Father we’ve been invited into? This joy?
Are you hearing what I’m saying?
Because THIS is the very reason we were saved!
Why Jesus took on flesh.
However, in the Christian West, this is barely talked about…or understood. Whenever I discuss these things with most Christians, I might as well be the grownup in the Charlie Brown cartoons (“wah-wah-wah-wah…”) They hear a sound but they’re not comprehending what’s being said. Our minds have been darkened by centuries of religious philosophy rather than the light of revelation given to us by the Spirit.
We have been taught a philosophy about our life in God that doesn’t transform us but only fills our minds with information.
As C. Baxter Kruger points out, this is why theology bores us rather than stirs our hearts. It might be brilliant head-knowledge but it doesn’t reach us where we live–it doesn’t fill us with His joy, heal us, make us whole, or even fix our marriages.
It has left us hiding in our church buildings waiting for it all to be over.
So, most of the Western world has shaken off the dust from us and moved on.
But the good news is, that isn’t the good news! Hallelujah! They’re not rejecting Christ, they’re rejecting a man-made image of Christ–a religious facsimile of Christianity, not the original article.
We actually have something that everyone wants! To be affirmed, embraced, loved and accepted by the God who created them for relationship–to live and be unconditionally loved in that shared fellowship, both with God and with each other. This is eternal life!
This is how and why Jesus came.
Cleansing us from sin was only the means to this greater end.
Jesus came to us in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), so that we who were orphans would be adopted as sons (which means daughters too), to be brought into this Divine Union, this Eternal Fellowship of God, to the Father of this family from every tribe and tongue and nation that exists both in heaven and on the earth (Eph.3:14-15).
Beloved, this is the revolution of love that God has invited us to be part of! This counter-insurgence into an orphan world haunted by the angst of its soul, held captive in its own mind, alone and without hope.
This is the Christian life, our dwelling place (John 14:2-6). For there is no other given that will bring the freedom and fulfillment that every heart longs for.