Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Relationship With... Whom?

Last week I was in a setting where I was listening to a person, though we were not exactly in a conversation. And this person to whom I was listening began to speak of "one's relationship with God." As I listened, I suddenly became aware that this person wasn't speaking of a relationship with God at all, but rather of a relationship with one's interiority.

The tip-off was how the whole content of this relationship was things like frustration over failures to achieve self-improvement goals and disappointment that overcoming sin wasn't easier to accomplish.

I was a little bit stunned putting this 2+2 together, but just as quickly it became a naru hodo moment where I understood why when I have heard this person talk about God in the past, it seemed something big was missing.

Like an experience of a personal God.

Oh, I can't say of course that this person hasn't experienced God in a real way; in fact I would guess that quite the opposite is true. However, it seems entirely possible that one can experience something without thinking about it sufficiently to be able to articulate it, or to understand that crucial value of experience. And perhaps one has had a long and deep formation in ways that have served to reinforce this idea that since prayer is interior, therefore anything that happens interiorly is equivalent to meeting God.

But a relationship with God, like a relationship with a human person, is going to involve interaction with Him in ways that simply are not part of me, myself & I. God is Other, and He comes to me, revealing to me myself and all things, but first and foremost, Himself.

And this made me wonder.... How many other religious people of Christian background misunderstand this basic Christian truth when they hear or use the phrase "relationship with God"?

1 comment:

Fred Kaffenberger said...

Yes. I had a similar realization a few years back when our daughter came from religious ed with the task of drawing an angel: in other words begin with her imagination of heavenly things. Instead, the task became possible because we turned to the event of the Incarnation. As a result of looking to God's initiative, she depicted Gabriel at the Annunciation.