My son and his wife are having a baby any moment now. Great joy, but it is half joy and half sorrow as one feels the wrenching apart that this darn pandemic has thrust upon us. Every relationship I have is altered. I am not designed to have Zoom relationships, to speak in false starts, not being able to be physically present and feel the person and read the body language as one converses and connects. I can’t get to my mom who is in her mid-80s; I can’t see my newly-wed son and his wife; I can’t… I can’t… I can’t… Never mind my close friends who I do life with. Relationships. It seems this is a key pillar of life and now it is denied.
If you are like me then you too would not have realised the enormous value of relationships and especially good relationships. What is it about our mannishness, our humanity, that this is its finest expression, and yet in life it is fraught with all the range of emotions from deep love to deep hate? This lockdown and isolation have brought the worst out in me and it has been directed to the one I love the most, my wife of 34 years.
Maybe if I can understand the beginning of relationships, I can regain its meaning and value and get an eternal reference point that will hold me through this time.
Genesis 1 and 2 are such strong anchors in this storm. When God says in chapter 1:26, “Let us make…” the “us” is huge. You cannot have relationship in a singularity. By its very nature relationship requires at least two persons. This gives meaning to the truth of the Trinity and it underpins personhood and relationship and gives full credence and meaning to the statement that God is Love. It is in this likeness and image that I have been made. I have been made for relationship. The very first relationship given to man is the one with his Creator.
It is in this first relationship of man and his Creator that the Creator gives him a work to do and places him in the place of his work and puts before him a grand freedom with only one restriction. Everything is for Adam’s good and he is free to do anything he chooses and wishes in the living of his life and the execution of his role and responsibility before his Creator. In his obedience he demonstrates his understanding that God is his infinite reference point. He demonstrates that he, Adam, is finite in all ways including knowledge.
Adam then sets himself to the task at hand and one of the tasks is that he names all the animals. The naming is not arbitrary but expresses a deep understanding of the creature as the name reflects the nature / character of the animal. Immediately thereafter God declares that it is not good for man to be alone, that there is not a suitable helper to be found for Adam (2:18, 20b). All living creatures are in pairs, mates, companions, partners. Adam was all alone. There is no one for Adam to relate to that is like him. God puts Adam into a deep sleep and takes from his side flesh from which he fashions Eve. God brings Eve to Adam and upon seeing her he declares, “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (2:23). This is not the best pickup line, but Adam is declaring that he deeply recognises in Eve that she too is made in the image and likeness of God. That she is like him and thus they can be in relationship. Chapter two ends with the creation ordinance of marriage.
God is Love. It is His nature. It is not an action or attribute. It is who He is, and we are made in His likeness. Love, by definition, is outward. It is toward the other person. It is not self-directed. It is not for self-fulfilment. Only when I see the other person as made in the image of God, made by the Creator who made the universe by speaking it into being, that only then, maybe, will I view each and every person as magnificent and beautiful and, in fact, holy.
When I now look back to the opening paragraph, I am convicted that my griping is that I feel loss and frustration because I have lost something. I am ashamed to admit that I have even here been ‘me’ focused. It’s not about me being loved, but me loving. I can’t get that right until I get right the first relationship I am created for and that is towards the One who created me. It is in that first relationship that I can better and more fully love and relate to others who are made in His image and likeness. So maybe if I die to self, I might love more fully and finally live as I was created to live before the God who is there and who created me.
Chat more tomorrow.