It’s not so much what you that’s important; it’s who you are in relationship with that matters.
I remember hearing Len Sweet say that in 2006 and I am still unpacking it all. And living it.
In a previous post, I asked the question, “What do you do when your worldview crumbles.” I referenced the story in I Samuel when the Israelites brought the ark – the place where the presence of God resided at the time – into battle. The Philistines were at first afraid but turned that fear into a do-or-die mentality. The Israelites believed with the ark at their side, they couldn’t lose. Score one for the Philistines. Add in a crushing defeat for the Israelites.
We all build our lives on something, or even someone. But what happens when that thing or person leaves or goes away. Or what happens when what we have believed is proven wrong. Or experience calls it into question.
Len’s statement is the place for us to start. Our knowledge-base will change as our world unfolds. Whether we like to admit it or not, our understanding of God, the scriptures, and the world is affected by the way life unfolds for us: the loss of a loved one, a tragic event in life, or an experience we cannot explain. We see the world through a different lens. When the lens changes, the interoperation does as well.
The images and symbols we used for meaning are interpreted differently. And when that happens, our understanding of so much of what we believed gets called into question. Often, what results is a crumbling house of meaning: cracked, fractured and falling apart.
Do we hold on to that?
This past year has seen two horrific tornados ravage an area of Oklahoma. For many people, all they had was destroyed. What remained were relationships – friends, family and even strangers – who descended on the area to help. I dare say no one there mourned the loss of their stuff over someone’s life. What was important was that most families were still together, though some certainly did not survive. They were concerned about their relationships, not what they knew or what they did or did not have.
The past few years, and especially the past two, have brought a lot of chaos into my life. I’ve had experiences I never thought I would have. I have had dreams and visions that shook me to the core. So much of what I believed – about myself, my faith, my God – was challenged. And jettisoned.
Sitting here today, Len’s words are more important to me than ever. The important thing is who I am in relationship with.
I’ve heard people talk about the idea of objective truth, and do so as if that they knew with certainty the truth. But this side of heaven, objective truth as an absolute does not exist. But an absolute Truth has always existed, and His name is Jesus (another Len-ism). Truth is relational, and thus experiential.
It’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know. It’s not what you believe but who you believe in.
When the world we’ve known begins to crumble around us, we can stand on a falling mountain or a on the cornerstone of life – The Christ, the son of the living God. He, and the Spirit and the Father, will not fade. The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word (the tabernacling son of God made flesh) remains forever. That is who we hold on to.
The beautify of emphasizing the who over the what is that the who will lead us to the what. The Spirit is the one who will lead us into all Truth – the depths of a relationship with Jesus. Again, Truth is relational.
So when life happens – and it will – will your most important relationship be with a who or a what? Just remember, the Who will be left when the what has passed away.