Are you a list person? There are all kinds of lists people make. There are grocery lists so you don’t forget necessary items or worse yet, buy things you don’t need. There are to do lists for work so you plow through the pile of things on your desk. There are even to do lists for around the house. But could you imagine a to do list for a spouse?
1. Arrive home from work on time. 2. Compliment her on what she’s wearing when you walk in the door. 3. Kiss her and ask how her day was. 4. Make several comments throughout dinner about how delicious it is. 5. Hold her hand while watching television…and so on. How totally bizarre!
We quickly see the absurdity of a list for loving a spouse. It isn’t about lists. It’s about relationship. You cannot go methodically through a marriage and expect to have any quality of relationship. It would be robotic, without real emotion or connection.
The Pharisees were experts at lists and rules. They governed their every step. Their connection to God revolved around lists and regulations. In John 18 Jesus is arrested and taken to the High Priest for questioning before He is taken to Pilate. As I read through chapter 18, I was jolted by how list and rule driven they were. They were totally okay with taking the life of an innocent man, however, they refused to enter the palace to talk with Pilate because it would have made them ceremonially unclean to partake of the Passover meal. Are you kidding me? They were far more concerned with ceremony than relationship. They were so busy following the rules of God they totally missed Him when He was standing before them in the flesh.
People do the same thing today. It’s morning, so I have to do my quiet time. 1. Listen to two worship songs. 2. Read a passage of Scripture. 3. Copy a key verse in journal. 4. Pray the prayer list and don’t forget to tell God how great He is. Okay, now I can put that aside until I climb into bed and say my prayers asking God to give me a peaceful night’s sleep and a great day tomorrow.
There has to more to our connection with Jesus or we’re simply wasting our time and we’re in for a rude awakening when we stand before Him and He declares “Depart from me. I never knew you’ [Matthew 7:23, Matthew 25:41]. Our God is all about relationship. Throughout John 17 Jesus is talking to the Father asking for His followers to be one with Him just as He is one with the Father [John 17:11, 21].
There is a difference between someone you’re acquainted with and someone you’re in relationship with. A relationship requires talking openly and listening intently. It is based on common interests and includes a willingness to sacrifice for the other. You look forward to spending time together. It isn’t a chore or something you check off of a list. You think about the other person and wonder how they would respond to situations you face. You seek their advice. You share your successes and your failures, knowing they will be there to support you through both, just as you are for them.
Are you more interested in the rule or the relationship? I know which one Jesus chooses. What will you choose today?