Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
John 15: 13-14
So often when people think of Christianity, they think of religion. A belief system where you learn the right questions and answers or where you know how you should behave. The fascinating thing about the Bible is that the predominant picture of God and humanity is not creeds, or statements, or things that we know. It is relationship. God calls us friends.
In the movie Contact, Jodie Foster plays Dr Ellie Arroway, a scientist who has an encounter with alien beings who have made contact with us. After her encounter no one, understandably, believes her. It seems like the stuff of fantasy and fiction.
At the end of the movie, as she stands before a Senate committee that questions her claims, and perhaps her sanity, she says these profound words:
I… had an experience. I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real. I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever. A vision of the universe, that tells us undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone.
What Dr Ellie Arroway discovered is what God has been trying to tell us all along. To know God is more than what I can comprehend, it is to experience life with God. That is the profound moment when we truly understand who God is and who we are.
That is the nature of a relationship. I could tell you everything I know about someone who I think you would get along with famously. Where they were born, what they look like, their likes and dislikes, and aspects of their personality, but that will only take you so far. There comes a point when you need to meet them, spend time with them, travel through a bit of life with them and then, and only then, armed with knowledge and experience will you truly know that person. That is the nature of relationships.
Could it be, the only way to truly know God is not simply to know about him, but to step into a relationship with him?