Recently I was asked to convey five great theological themes presented squarely in the Scriptures and to explain and display them in such a way that an ordinary person might exclaim, "hey, I understand that"! This daily column is the vehicle to detail these internationally. Over the past two days I've discussed 'Grace' and 'Faith'.
Relationship conveys a most alarming idea. This is an idea that is contrary to everything that we would normally consider as possible. This next sentence might shock many tried and true Christians, as Relationship is not something one can touch or feel, rather it's a personal attitude.
The world's greatest of all theologians down through the centuries have grappled with the essence of 'Relationship' and have recognised it as a personal attitude. Martin Luther realised it's full 'moment' when on one occasion he re-read Romans 1: 16-17 â "The Just shall live by faith". A light went on!
The words 'relationship with the Lord' conveys the most outrageous idea, something that is beyond the imagination of man, that the Lord God of the universe delights in a one to one relationship with each individual man, woman, boy and girl.
This remarkable relationship with the Lord is as real and true as are the other intangibles of life â integrity, loyalty, love, honour, passion, ambition ..... Have you ever tried to touch one of these, as one might touch a chair or a table, they are tangible. But this list above, are intangible.
"Relationship with the Lord" is central to Christian theology in taking God at His Word as revealed to us in the Bible. This is why I describe it as a personal attitude.
From the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis the idea of a relationship between the Creator and the created was central to the fellowship between God and man. The separation of man from God came due to man's willingness to disbelieve God's best intentions â all from a lie from the great deceiver.
The overall picture of the Bible is a theological presentation of how God seeks to restore this personal relationship to mankind m (each person), and this is presented in a number of literary genres â historical, poetical, prophetic, wisdom (Old Testament). In the New Testament â such as the Gospels, history as in The Acts, letters from Paul to specific congregations, pastoral letters from disciples, apocalyptic.
There is no definition to this. When two people fall in love, there is unwritten chemistry. In the relationship between God and man the chemistry is the Holy Spirit who wrestles with each person in the very depths of a person's heart where only those two speak of such intimacy.
Central to this intimacy is the Cross of Calvary for it is here that God presents His ultimate integrity to those who He loves through death and resurrection. When man sinned way back in Genesis that sin affected everyone who lives, even today. There is a penalty for sin which is death â in this context Jesus took this death upon Himself - the incarnation of God Himself died on the Cross for my sin!
A love story
This is a love story. It is all about an intimate ongoing relationship. Can anyone really comprehend this idea?
The Hindu's don't see it this way as their idea of God is too distant.
The Buddhist's don't see it this way as there is no personal Saviour.
The Muslims don't see it like this as Allah is not a personal Lord and one never quite knows whether you've done enough praying or good deeds to earn paradise. It's built on submission, not Grace.
The relationship that Jesus Christ offers is personal, it centres on a relationship between two living persons, one is the Lord through the Holy Spirit, and the other, a real live person, that is ordinary people, like you and me. This is why I say it's a personal attitude.
This is beyond the imagination of man, that the God of the universe would love each person so much, that He would go so far to offer such an intimate relationship to those who would trust Him.
This is one of five great themes of the Scriptures, and it is so mind blowing and out of this world, that it is only those with faith can see it. Grace, Faith and Relationship with God are the cornerstones to the Christian religion.
Grace means this relationship cannot be earned or bought. Faith is the mechanism through which the relationship functions. They are three intertwined ingredients whereby God and man intimately and passionately love each other.
In Revelation 3 verse 20 the Lord says â "Behold I stand at the door an knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me."
This is why I say that it's best described as a personal attitude.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html