Dear Parish Faithful,
Following another excellent Bible Study last Wednesday, I received this further reflection from Johnothon Sauer on one of the many topics we discussed. I had made the point earlier in the day, that the Bible Study leads one to "think" about the crucial areas of life - like God - and here is a good example of some of that "thinking" stimulated by the commitment to study the Scriptures within the communal setting of the parish Bible Study.
As a final thought about the discussion tonight:
The words "eternal life" in the text always lead me back to John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Eternal life isn't about getting to heaven, though it will certainly be a part of it. Instead, eternal life is more than that...it's knowing God. And "knowing God" is not academic, book knowledge, but rather is real, experiential, relationship-based knowledge. It's not the way we know a politician or our favorite baseball player. Rather, it's how we know our friends and our family. I've been married to Terrie for over 20 years now, and the reason I know her as well as I do is because I have experienced life with her. It's not because I've read her autobiography, read her writings, or read the writings of those who know her, though early in our relationship hearing the stories about her from her and her friends and family certainly helped. And even after 20 years, do I really know her completely? No, I don't. I still learn more about her every day that we're together. But at this point in our relationship, the readings and writings wouldn't do much. The way I continue to learn about her and grow in our relationship is from experiencing life with her. Do I do things that drive her crazy? Yes. Does she remind me of those things? Every once in a while, and then I apologize for them. Sadly, some of these things are such a part of my personality that I continue to drive her crazy. It doesn't mean I'm not trying to "get better", but at times things just happen.
And so it is with God. If we really want to know Him, we need to have a real, experiential, intimate relationship with Him. It's not enough to just read His words or read about Him (though that certainly helps). It's not enough to spend a couple hours with Him on Sunday morning, or a couple hours with Him on Wednesday night. If we really want to know God, then we need to experience life with Him, and that's the offer we have from Him at the end of Romans 6: "...the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." All we need to do is make the choice to build the relationship with Him. Will we, at times, turn away from Him and do things that harm that relationship, that "drive Him crazy"? Yes...that's sin. Will He remind us of those things? Yes. Will we apologize? Yes...that's confession. And sadly, some of the things we do that harm the relationship have become such a part of our personality that we continue to do them, despite the fact that we are trying to change...which is why we continue to confess the same things over and over again.