Scriptures tell us that ‘God is the same yesterday, today and forever’. The Divine’s character is ‘Faithful and True’ and able to be relied upon while the world around us changes. The seasons of life and nature create the experience of constantly ‘shifting sands’ in our mortal human lives. We struggle sometimes with our own adjustments and the way our closest relationships evolve and change with the passing of time on earth.
However, relationships must evolve; to remain vital, they must unfurl, grow, change, mature. Imagine a romantic relationship continuing forever in the high-energy state of obsession with one glorious (but in reality, flawed) human being. If nothing else, the limbic system would ‘burn out’. Meaningful relationships, whether they be friendships, parent-child or lover partnerships, must develop with time. So, what of our relationship with the Divine?
The Christian narrative tells us that in the beginning, when humans were freshly evolved (and/or created), God declared his/her delight in us: ‘very good’ and ‘made in my image; male and female’. We began to make choices; some were good, some were bad and some were ugly. Like an attentive parent of a young child, the Divine watched over us protectively, guided us and allowed us to discover our world in safety. We were taught consequences and given rules (or laws) to help us make good choices and be kind to one another. The earth provided what humans needed to grow and develop into adulthood under the watchful eye of a loving Creator. God spoke through nature, dreams, burning bushes, misty mountains, prophet/esses and even a donkey!
And then a time was reached when the Divine chose to presence her/himself alongside those image-bearers in human flesh. Jesus Christ was born as a baby onto the earth as fully human and fully God, and the Divine was now dwelling in human flesh amongst the people he/she loved. This was an intentional step (or evolution) towards intimacy; the distance between a perfectly loving God and mortal imperfect humans was being eroded. Christ lived, died and rose again to bridge that gap and secure a guiltless friendship between humankind and the Creator. People could now freely receive/give devotion in relationship with God based solely on belief in Christ and the love of God shown through him. And surely, this would have been enough for us.
But the Divine had even more generosity planned for us. When Christ returned to the heavenly realms, the Spirit (God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit that was in Christ) was sent to the earth to dwell within each person that chose to have faith in Christ, the God-person. The Spirit was given to comfort, guide, teach, counsel and be a guarantor of God’s eternal life within us. This level of intimacy between humans and the Divine is extraordinary and I am often overwhelmed by the deep respect and honour that has been given to us. Along with the constant companionship of the Spirit, God has also given us advocacy through prayer, spiritual gifts and the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc).
I am greatly moved and thankful for the way God has chosen to evolve his/her relationship with human beings over time. My hope is that we may all continue to grow into this profound love relationship with our Maker, and that the freedom intended for us becomes a reality.