The most important revelation of our lives, the fact that makes the most serious change in us, is the understanding that other people are real. This happens so early in our lives that we have long forgotten its impact, yet we continue to struggle with this knowledge throughout our days. So important is this understanding that those who fail to grasp it are handicapped in their relationships and in their daily lives.
In many ways, our television and internet culture has made this even more difficult for us. Our feelings—emotional connections—for people are manipulated and twisted by fictional stories designed to move us to empathize with people who are not real. Then, when we see others, perhaps on the news, we feel something less than empathy. Someone loses their home in a fire; someone’s child dies in a war; someone is hurt in an accident—and we say that’s too bad. But we will never meet them, never be able to help them in a personal way, and never really care. The news is just one more source of entertainment, albeit one that isn’t fiction (or so we are told).
I suspect this is part of the reason for the increase in reality shows. We desire relationship and we want it to be real. Fiction pulls at our hearts, but offers no connection that will reveal our identity. I might care about Macbeth or Jean Valjean or Jack Bauer, but I learn nothing about myself in a fictional character. Somehow the fact that the person in a reality show is a real person seems to promise more to me. I believe that I might actually be able to connect with the person. Sadly, the deception of the reality show is that there is little reality involved.
You see, I learn about myself through the eyes and thoughts of others. In fiction or television I can see them, but they cannot see me. I need them to see me. They are the real mirrors in which I learn about myself.
Perhaps you can remember an experience where you suddenly realize that a person sees you, really sees you. They might have a funny look about them. They might be looking right into your eyes. It isn’t a bad thing, but it can be unnerving. Something has been revealed and you are moved to understand what it was. And you learn.
And when you realize that a personal God really sees you, you as an individual, the doors to eternity open. Suddenly your relationship with Him holds the promise of revealing the truth about you.
In response to the last post on identity, TacticianJenro asked how our relationship with Jesus can be personal. If that is the relationship we are to have with Him, how does it happen? This is the question that centers our faith and rocks our world. This is the most important question of our lives.
The answer is intensely personal, yet as simple as the development of any relationship. Let me risk a few basic suggestions.
- Believe that He is real. Not just an idea, but a Person.
- Believe that He has an interest in you. He sees you. He knows when you lie down and when you get up, as David said. He knows what you like and what you want and what you are afraid of and what you struggle against and what you worry about. He knows more about you than you know about you. And He loves you.
- Believe that He is with you. He never leaves you. He is always near. These are things the Scriptures make very clear.
He is real. He loves you. He is with you. This is not fiction or deception. This is reality and it makes a difference.
Now, live as though you believe this. Think about Him. Talk with Him. Ask Him things and expect answers. Walk through life with Him. That’s what the Christian life is all about. Service, sacrifice, devotion—all the things of the Christian life that we were taught—all come out of this reality of His presence or they are just more fiction.
The relationship of a young man and a young woman is about being with each other. They spend time together and learn. In the process they each learn about the other, but they also learn about themselves. The more time they spend together, the more they are able to give of themselves. The more they give of themselves, the more they see and receive from the other. This is how a relationship is supposed to work.
Our relationship with Jesus is nothing less than the most precious relationship in our lives, but it is just as simple as presence. Learn to live in His presence. Let that be your prayer. The goal and the activity of the rest of your life.
And in the process, you will be becoming who you are.