I have a friend named Christie. Maybe the word “friend” doesn’t sum it up. Perhaps these would be more along the descriptive lines.
We have been friends for a long time, and are rather fond of each other. Everywhere we go, people assume the other one is close behind. I’m really thankful for my bosom buddy, and will miss her somethin’ awful when we go our separate ways for college. We have alike souls, and love the same things.
BUT! It wasn’t always that way.
When I met Christie at the tender age of 9, we did NOT get along. She like neo pets, I liked pretending. She liked dragons, I liked Anne of Green Gables. I danced through life in a constant flurry, with fuzzy wavy hair and far too many freckles, never quite in the real world, naming rose bushes, and having imaginary friends. Christie walked through life in a competent way for a ten year old, hair neatly pulled back or parted down the middle, a committed martial artist, who sewed her own costumes, and had exceptional grammar. All this to say… we were quite different.
The first time I went to Christie’s house, we jumped on her trampoline with her brother Jack. We argued over what game to play, neither giving way as we were both rather head strong, and finally ended the day drinking tea at each other in a malicious manner. I didn’t like her, and the feeling was mutual.
However, our parents decided to be friends, and so we were tossed together a lot over the next few years. Our mom’s started a homeschool history group with us and another family. The Weakly’s started traveling with us to conferences. Alltogether, I started seeing a lot of Christie.
As fate (or the Lord) would have it, Christie and I slowly but surely began to be friends. We began to learn to mesh. I made allowances for her, and she for me. As we got older, we began to like some of the things each other liked, our interests began to become similar. We were still the different as could be friends. The ISTJ and the ENFP… But through our friendship we grew to love the other person, and in turn, love what they loved. Since then we’ve walked through hellfire and heaven together. And after 8+ years… I couldn’t be more grateful for such a fast friend.
Being friends with Christie has taught me something about God. Oftentimes, I have felt a failure to God because I can’t DO all the right things. I would go to youth groups and hear great inspiring messages like “You need to be HOLY! You need to drop everything you like and sacrifice it!” “Share your faith.” “Start a prayer group.” “Be like Jesus.” I wanted to be a good Christian, I really did, but Christianity started feeling like a duty, a checklist. Like all those things we were what I had to do to get my “get out of hell free” card. When I say it that way, it sounds rather heretical, doesn’t it? But I think we have all been guilty of that at some point.
That’s not what God really wants, though. It says in Hosea 6:6
“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the Knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”
God created us for relationship with Him, first and foremost that is what he wants. Even in the Old Testament full of laws and rules, he first established that the Israelites were His People, aside from their actions or sins. “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12). God wanted to walk beside them as their God.
However, if you’ve ever read the Bible, you’ll remember that Leviticus, where that very verse is found, is a whole book of laws about everything. From the grand scheme of things to itty bitty minutia, it seems that God has a way that everything should be done, and not done. It doesn’t seem one could be a Jew under the law for just one day without breaking some law or another.
Now, luckily, we no longer live under the levitical law, however Jesus the Bible is still full of commands on how we ought to live our lives. God still doesn’t like sin. So, which is it? Does God want relationship? Or does he want us to DO all the right things?
Here’s where my relationship with Christie comes in. When I first met Christie, we did not mesh, we were different, and liked different things. I could not have forced her to like Anne of Green Gables, and she could not have cajoled me into Neo Petting (is that even a thing? Is that what you call it?). We were too drastically different and there was no relationship there. However, the closer I got to Christie, the more we sacrificed, moved, shifted and changed to suit each others lives. I played her games because I loved her. I learned to love what she loved, because I loved her. In the same way, when we enter a relationship with God, we are drastically different from Him. He is holy, we are sinful. There is no way that we can expect our sinful dirty self to just up and start liking be really good and doing all kinds of good deeds. And that is not the heart God wants from us. He wants our “loyalty” and a “knowledge” of him. First and foremost, we must know God. Learn to love Him and be in relationship. The closer you are to God’s heart, the more you learn to love what he loves, and hate what He hates. It is from that relationship that good works come. Not from just trying really hard, the Bible is pretty clear that our attempts of Righteousness are pretty useless. Our lives will only be transformed by a relationship with God. The longer we walk with Him, the more we become like him. “For it is God who is at Work in you, to will and to work for His Good Pleasure.” Phillipians 2:13
And that is what Christie has taught me about God. That before I can ever be like God, I must know Him. The more I love Him, the more I love the things he loves. The right things. Because It’s not only about doing the right things, but loving the right things. And finally… that there is Great Joy in a close relationship.
Blessings and all that!