What role do other people have in my relationship with God? This question has been answered in many different ways throughout the Church over the past two millennia. All true believers affirm that the God/Man, Jesus Christ, is the only way we can have a relationship with God, but what about all of the rest of the people on this planet? What role do they play in my walk with God?
Some have attempted to elevate others as intermediaries between man and God. This Old Testament style “priest” idea places human leaders as necessary couriers between God and man, similar to Moses or one of the high priests in the Old Testament. In OT times, this would mean that when sacrifices were necessary for the sins of the people, the priest would offer up the sacrifice. When God wanted to meet with the people, He met their leader on a mountainside. Today, this idea is applied in the belief that some church leaders have a more direct connection to God than their parishioners. In this view, a prayer from the pulpit is more effective than a prayer from the pew.
Others have attempted to view others as people who are primarily here to minister to us. God has dispersed His gifts throughout the church, and when a congregation gathers, the gifts that God has dispersed are utilized for ministry to many, including me. In this view, other people teach me, encourage me, challenge me, help minister to my needs, etc.
Still others have attempted to view other people as extraneous bit actors in a movie starring us. What I mean by this is that sometimes (as it pertains to people’s relationship with God) we have so privatized the Christian experience that other people simply are not necessary to being all God has called us to be. In this view personal piety, spiritual disciplines, and biblical knowledge are held as the paramount issues of Christian maturity.
Do any of these ideas make sense to you? Any problems you have with these perspectives? I see plenty.
- Jesus Christ as our High Priest has made it possible for all believers in Him to have DIRECT access to the Father in prayer, thus eliminating the need for a human go-between.
- While God does disperse gifts throughout the Church, and God does minister to me through them, it is quite self-focused to see other people as existing only for my benefit, doesn’t it?
- There simply are way too many direct commands of Scripture that cannot be lived out apart from significant relationship with others to think that other people are unimportant to my spiritual life.
This week, as we continue our study of 1 John, we will be looking at 1 John 2:7-11, 3:11-18. These verses actually give us some serious insight into the role of others in our relationship with God. In many ways, the entire book of 1 John is written about the connection between how our fellowship with the Lord is connected to our relationship with others. If you have a moment over the next couple of days, read these verses and begin to reflect on the role others play in our relationship with God. What do these verses seem to suggest? Join us Sunday at 9:30 or 10:50 in our worship services at Wildwood as we begin to explore further.