The heart and soul of Christianity is relationship to God. It may be many things, but it is nothing without this. Likewise, Christians may be many things, but we are not Christian lest we have a sense of connection to God. The word “religion” itself expresses this idea, it’s root meaning re-ligamented, or re-connected. Scripture defines this relationship by calling us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Jesus further provides a picture of relationship when he says, “You are the branches, and I am the vine. You can do nothing without me.” Augustine, and early church leader, said “Our souls are restless until they find their rest in [God].”
These are all statements Christians know to be true, and God’s reminders to take the time required to cultivate this depth of connection. Worship on Sunday’s may be necessary for us to connect to God, but it’s certainly not sufficient. Prayer, silence, scripture, renewed commitments, thanksgiving, testimony, singing, study, and dreaming are all deeper ways to relate to God. Lately I have been meeting regularly with a spiritual director to walk with me in my own spiritual life. Through him, I find myself challenged and encouraged to love the God who is love.
In loving God, a miraculous and marvelous thing happens to us. Dorotheos of Gaza, an ancient Mother of the Church invites us to picture what love of God looks like: “Suppose we were to take a compass and insert the point and draw the outline of a circle. The center point is the same distance from any point on the circumference… Let us suppose that this circle is the world and that God is the center; the straight lines drawn from the circumference to the center are the lives of human beings…Notice that the closer they are to God, the closer they become to one another; and the closer they are to one another, the closer they are to God.”
It is only through our love and relationship with God that energy, creativity, and desire for loving others comes to fullness. Loving God allows us the freedom to see those in our lives as God sees them, and to treat them as God treats them. Likewise, compassion for others is a core way for us to fall more deeply in love with our Maker. Why? Because loving other people helps us to see what God is doing in their lives, and opens us to their stories of redemption, pain, and praise.
In the business and busyness of life in the city, Christians must find the time to connect deeply with God. We are not social activists, or performers of good works. We are Christians, people defined primarily by our relationship to God. It is out of this relationship that all other motivation flows.
I encourage you all, in whatever ways are meaningful for you, to drink deeply from the wells of devotion and spirituality that we have inherited. In doing so, we taste the reality of what our founder, Menno Simons said to be true for us all: that “we are bone of bone and flesh of flesh with Jesus Christ.” Set aside time tonight, rise early tomorrow, or plan a weekend personal retreat as a way to re-ligament yourself to the heart and soul of our existence. As you do, may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace! And may your love grow for all!