Donald Miller writing in his newest book, Searching for God Knows What, (p 45 – 47) said some things that seemed to make a lot of sense. It explains a lot of why I need God and his people. It goes beyond the surface of my search for human love and acceptance to the mystery of those deep longings within me that are hard to express. He says:
You go walking along, thinking people are talking a language and exchanging ideas, but the whole time there is this deeper language people are really talking, and that language has nothing to do with ethics, fashion, or politics, but what it really has to do with is feeling important and valuable. What if the economy we are really dealing in life, what if the language we are really speaking in life, what if what we really want in life is relational?…
Now this changes things quite a bit, because if the gospel of Jesus is just some formula I obey in order to get taken off the naughty list and put on a nice list, then it doesn’t meet the deep need of the human condition, it doesn’t interact with the great desire of my soul, and it has nothing to do with the hidden (or rather, obvious) language we are all speaking.
Having a relationship with Jesus now, is so far from being a formula thing. It has nothing to do with following a form of behaviour, rules or living up to other peoples standards. It is so much more complicated than a set of rules and yet, at the same time, so much simpler. There is something built in to me that needs that acceptance and love that he offers. I don’t have to earn that acceptance – I can’t.
I cannot go back to anything less than an intimate relationship with Christ where I am secure in the fact that he loves me and he actually gets pleasure out of my little attempts to show him love in return. So all my actions become attempts to love him back, to please him, to allow our relationship to develope. This relationship can’t be limited to rules. Rules are binding and hedge in. They put limits on behaviour but also limit the possible expressions of love. Rules create fear – fear of slipping up on some small neglected item that was on the rule list. Perfect love casts out fear. He has freed me.
So this deeper language of relationships can only be learned as the relationship with Christ frees us from having to meet the worlds standards of importance, fame and influence. Christ also frees us from these same standards which creep into the instituation of the church where adherence to sets of rules may confer importance, admiration for pious behaviour and influence. These are generally religious perks that Jesus warned us against seeking.