Grace Grows us in Relationship
I was recently asked by one of our high school youth here at St. John’s, “So, why do you believe in God?” I am used to difficult questions, but I admit that this one threw me off guard. Of course I believe in God, but it had been a while since anyone asked me to explain why. I assume that this particular high school youth was looking for an intellectual answer based on solid reason or philosophical proofs. However, I have never found such answers to this question very helpful and my guess was that neither would she.
I stood there in awkward silence and anxious reflection for a few moments as I formulated my response. Then I said, “I can no more say that I don’t believe in God than I can say that I don’t believe in my grandparents. I know my grandparents are real because I have shared a mutual and loving relationship with them. Likewise, I know that God is real because we have shared a life-long mutual loving relationship. How can I not believe in someone with whom I am in a daily and living relationship?” I don’t know whether my answer was helpful to this young person or not but she didn’t have an immediate response and I think my answer at least made her stop and think.
Since then, I have thought a lot about this question and my response to it. On the one hand, it was a rather flippant answer that will require some further fleshing out on my part. On the other hand, I also think that my answer gets to the heart of the issue. We know God most fully through relationship, a relationship that is initiated and sustained by God, a relationship that, though marred and broken by our Sin and brokenness, has been made possible for us again through God’s self-giving act of love for us in Christ’s death on the cross. We know and trust God because of the relationship we now have with God in Christ.
The season of Lent invites us to be intentional in attending to our relationship with Christ. Just as attending to our relationships with others requires intentional commitment, so too does attending to our relationship with Christ require such intentional commitment. We attend to our relationship with Christ when we are faithful in worship, both on the weekend and on Wednesdays. We attend to our relationship with Christ when we spend time with him each day through Scripture reading and prayer. We attend to our relationship with Christ when we care for the poor and the hurting and the broken in our communities. We attend to our relationship with Christ when we seek to mend and restore the broken relationships we have with others. We attend to our relationship with Christ when we daily confess our sin and daily return to the promises made to us in our baptism.
Our Lenten theme this year is grace GROWS us in relationship. I invite you to be intentional in your Lenten observance. Return to God. Like the father in Luke 15, God waits for us with arms wide open, always ready to welcome us back. Why do I believe in God? How can I not believe and trust in the God with whom I have been given an eternal relationship in Christ?