This summer we are in a series on relationships. From the moment we are born to the moment we die we gain a sense of orientation about who we and what we are about primarily through the relationships we have.
James Witwicki is our Strathcona Vineyard resident poet and throughout our series I have asked him to write some reflections or poems in response to what we are learning together.
RELATIONSHIP: Why Are We Here?
by James Witwicki
If we ask the question, “Why are we here on this earth, in this life?” we might get a wide variety of answers from Christians and non-Christians alike. This is a big question, related to another big question: What is our purpose on earth? These are not easy questions, but I encourage you to take a few moments to think about them.
Jesus had a knack for asking, and then answering, profound questions. This is one way that he modeled fellowship with his disciples. In Mark 12:28-34 a teacher of the law asks Jesus which is the most important (or greatest) commandment. Jesus answers as follows:
“The most important one, “answered Jesus is this: ‘Hear,
O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment
greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 NIV
Now in order to love God with all our being, it is necessary to be in relationship with Him. This can seem mysterious and difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. People of wavering belief often picture God as remote, mechanical, or even capricious, but Jesus models a completely different type of relationship. His relationship with God and the disciples is characterized by a close, intimate, everyday fellowship with them both.
As Christians we create fellowship with God by (almost literally) walking in Jesus footsteps. We pray, we join in praise and worship, we seek God in the bible and we fellowship with each other and our neighbours. We do this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who both witnesses and energizes our faith.
The second commandment noted above can be read as the second part of a single commandment. One of the ways we love God is to love our neighbours. In order to do that we need to build relationship with them. This too can be difficult in a society where so many people are fearful and alone.
In another passage Jesus adds weight to the earlier commandment by instructing the disciples to “love each other as I have loved you.” This and other passages seem to put a special emphasis on the ways that Christians are meant to love each other. I would argue that this kind of higher, sacrificial love can only be achieved when we are in continued close fellowship with each other.
An understated aspect of the commandment to love our neighbour is the sense of balance between love for ourselves and for others. We are not called to love our neighbour better than ourselves. A healthy and unselfish love for ourselves, where we take care of ourselves and are open to receiving God’s provision, and mercy and forgiveness, can only make us stronger and more stable.
Each of us may have a particular set of purposes: to achieve certain goals; to raise a family; to gain specific ends; but our central purpose is to love. We are commanded to love God, the Father , the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to love each other and our community. Good relationship makes this love possible. Out of that relationship all other achievement flows. And that is at least one reason why we’re here.