I Want You to Know Me

We humans tend to complicate the simple and reduce what is great to something ordinary. It's done with all manner of things, including politics, religion, and relationships. The current political scuffle, or should I say spitting match, is a prime example. Everyone knows what needs to be done, which is basically—live within our means. Of course, we haven't been doing that for a long time, but that's pretty obvious. What complicates it all is the political lack of will to do what is right and just. It's shameful and no one is free of blame.

The point is—it's only complicated by those who don't want to do the simple but hard things. On the other hand, there are those who'd like to "solve" the immigration dilemma with a big wall and "kicking out all those illegals." Ah, it's not that simple, and we are dependent, as a nation, upon the immigrants (legal and illegal) that have come into our country—after all, we're a nation of immigrants.

Unfortunately, Christians do pretty much the same thing. Why else would there be so many different denominations and groups claiming (in essence)—we've got it all right, but the others don't. Too often, theological truth, which has great depth, is reduced to what is palatable for the masses. And yet, all sorts of "laws" are set up (formally and unofficially) that complicate and restrict the practice of Christianity—the do's and don'ts that turn many away from the church.

I am adamantly against an ecumenical approach to God and the Christian Faith. As Jesus said, "the gate is wide...that leads to destruction" (Matt 7:13-14). I'm equally against sectarianism that rips apart the Christian church because of judgmental attitudes—"For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces" (Matt 23:13). There is a great danger in taking what is deep and making it shallow, so no one "drowns," and likewise, creating standards and requirements that shut people out of God's kingdom, in the name of truth.

And when it comes to relationships, oh, don't get me started. Actually, when it comes to religion, it's all about relationship. That's not just the mantra of the Jesus Movement back in the seventies, it's what God says—"I want you to know me" (Hosea 6:6 GWT). Jesus summed up the whole Law of Moses in two commandments—love God and love your neighbor (Matt 22:36-40). The Jewish Talmud expanded the Law into thousands of corollary interpretations of the Law, making it impossible to keep. American Christianity has managed to make the faith both marketable and manageable, at times reducing it to a discussion over coffee and a simple prayer that solves all.

Trusting in Jesus is simple, not complicated. But living out the truth of the Gospel in a consistent day-to-day manner is not so simple. Starting a relationship is rather simple, but keeping it going and healthy is often much more challenging, ask anyone who's been married. An observation about relationships—it's easy to get distracted from the basic essence of being present in the relationship. An example—my wife and I went to have coffee the other day. I took her picture and checked in with a social media app on my phone. Her comment to me, "Can't we just have coffee together?" I was occupied with the event and sharing it with others, instead of just being there with my wife.

This was God's issue with Israel, and I suspect, His issue with the church at times. More personally, it's His issue with me and perhaps with you at times. Is it possible to be so occupied and distracted with everything else that the Lord is left hanging? Of course it is. When God sent Hosea to Israel with His message of warning and pending judgment, Hosea was instructed to marry a prostitute. Sounds strange, but it illustrated the condition of God and Israel's relationship. Israel was trusting in its own strength, it's idols, and the strength of others, rather than the God who had made them. Hmm, sound familiar?