The song “Christ The Sure and Steady Anchor”, has enabled me to lift my thoughts and eyes and heart to Jesus as I wait on Him.
“Ian, look up to the night sky – how many stars do you see? – go to the sea-shore and count the grains of sand – that is how much higher My thoughts are than your thoughts – yet within that, I desire a relationship with you – I cherish that relationship – it is important to Me. Yet, know this – of all the billions of My followers – I cherish My relationship with each one equally.”
But Lord what about those who don’t really care, who don’t really show their desire to be with you?
“Once you are in a relationship with Me, my attitude towards you always remains the same – complete love – your sin may prevent you from the full appreciation and joy in the relationship – but I will always give you all of Me. That is also why I give you storms in your life – to turn you back to your Anchor and prepare you for the ultimate and perfect experience of relationship with Me when you enter the New Heavens and the New Earth and become part of My bride.”
I have been reading Luke 20:27-44. Now clearly the main point of the stories is twofold: it is affirming the reality of the resurrection, which has always been in the background in the scripture, but now takes on a new significance with Jesus’ own death and bodily resurrection in the near future, and which also goes to consolidate the identity of Jesus as Messiah. However in the background there is a secondary glimpse of interest. When Jesus gives His reply He gives some “insight” into the relationship experience we will have after we die.(Luke 20:35,36). He says 1. People will not marry, 2. People will not die because they are like the angels 3. They are God’s children, since they have experienced the resurrection.
Now just a few brief thoughts on relationships and their importance in the world to-day. When God created the world, He created Adam to be “in His own image”. We see the description of God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening Gen 3:8, so I take it that the main point of creation was to have someone who could think independently from God so that He could have a relationship with him. However we also see that that was not adequate for Adam’s needs. So God created a “companion” (Message bible) or “helper” for him (Gen 2:20b). Adam was delighted to have someone like him to relate to. From that we can deduce that she would give him friendship, would help him in the tasks he was to do, be the joint means through which they would multiply and fill the world and finally the physical act of communion, becoming one flesh with each other, which would reflect the closeness that would mirror the ultimate relationship we will have with Jesus.
We all know what happened after the fall as this close marriage relationship and the family that arose from it started to disintegrate. So, as time passed, on the one hand the plan of God for a healthy society was built on strong families and in the center a strong marriage relationship. However, sin and Satan has conspired over the years to attack that basic structure and the disintegration of marriages and families all over the world today, show the effects of that attack and its effects on all aspects of society.
But the question comes to me; why are relationships and especially marriage and family relationships so important? Well the answer seems to me to lie in that fact of the very hostility of the fallen world, which is antagonistic to each individual where we desperately need a sense of care and belonging and security. The place we find that is within our relationships. Primarily between husband and wife and flowing from that parents and children, together they form the bastion to give each other protection and companionship. The church is an extension of that family relationship circle, within which we should get the same companionship and mutual protection and care, especially for those who don’t have close family relationships.
Now within all this, Christ and our relationship with Him is central to the successful functioning of the marriage, family and church relationship. That is why marriages and families are such an important place which witness to the reality of Christ and His love, which is unseen and therefore can only be enjoyed through faith. It is also the place where Satan attacks the Christian community most aggressively, to break that witness down.
Finally the one big drawback, if I can call it that, is exactly the fact that our relationship with God is on an unseen level. We can experience some of the effect of God’s grace through interaction with other Christians, but ultimately there is no physical intimacy here in this world with God Himself.
The question, after all that I have written by way of explaining my thoughts, is how do relationships change when we get to heaven? I don’t want to dream up and fantasize so sticking to what is said just in this passage and keeping in mind the background thoughts I have given on relationships. Firstly, people will not marry or be given in marriage. This will not be necessary as the world will have totally lost its hostility. Everyone will presumably live lives of love towards each other. There will also be no procreation. Secondly our main relationship will be with God (since we will be God’s children). I like the translation of Luke 20:35,36 in the Message bible: “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage, nor of course with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies will be with God.’ And in he absence of all antagonism we will be able to enjoy that to the full.
There are many questions which can arise, but which are not answered in this passage, so I am sticking, simply to musings on what we can learn from this passage.
So what does Jesus say to me from all this? I believe the strong message is about the importance of every relationship we have with others, especially those who we are close to. The starting point should always be our relationship with he Lord Himself, then the love and care which flows from that will permeate every part of our lives. The picture of the great Bridal feast is in the future, but it is a huge motivation to make the most use of the here and now, by building every relationship we have to the best ability God gives us.