One of my younger sisters calls my mother just about every day, even though she only lives 15 minutes away. My older sister, who lives in Texas, calls my dad at the same time every week just to keep in touch. My sisters call me probably 4 or 5 times for every one time I call them (although I am getting better). I am convicted by their dedication to family and grateful for their patience with me, the sub par communicator.
I also have one of those best friends who you can go weeks, months, even years without seeing, but you’re always able to pick up right where you left off. She doesn’t get upset if I forget her birthday or anniversary. We’re just not birthday card, Christmas letter, regular check-in kind of people. We usually see each other once a year around Christmas time, and maybe chat on the phone or exchange letters once a year besides that. I love having such low-maintenance friends. Despite of lack of regular contact, I really do count her as one of the dearest and closest friends I’ve had in my life. We treasure every minute together as we catch up on one another’s lives. I trust her with every detail. I confess to her all my embarrassing secrets and sins, and respect her thoughts on any of my personal struggles. I care about her life, and want to share in everything she’s going through as well. One of the reasons we’re ok with such little communication is that we know our relationship is solid. We understand each other. There aren’t conflicts we need to resolve. We’ve been through alot, and we know our friendship can stand through whatever else life may bring.
Sometimes I treat God the way I treat my friends and family. I feel like “we’re solid”, so I don’t always feel the need to “maintain” the relationship as I should. I treasure the time I do spend building my relationship with God, but sometimes I forget how very different being a called daughter of Christ is from the relationships I have with those I’ve been blessed with here on earth.
If I’m being honest with myself, my lack of dedication to regularly maintaining my relationships with friends and family has its own very obvious repercussions. Even with my best friend I find myself wondering if we’ve grown apart at all since I’ve seen her last. When recounting important things in my life I wind up giving a brief summary of how things did happen, when her trusted support in the midst of things could have helped tremendously. There are only so many things you can cover in a limited time, and there are parts of my life and hers that we just didn’t have time to share. We’re still “solid” in our relationship, but a more constant presence in one anothers lives would obviously be more beneficial than our current “style”.
Too often I take my relationships for granted. I forget that just because I feel that a relationship is solid doesn’t mean that I am meeting all the needs of the other person.
Every once in a blue moon, when I have received 3 or 4 calls from my sister without calling her back, I’ll decide to finally do my due diligence and call her back. I’m often met with a sarcastic, “oh, you DO remember I exist”. Or I don’t call back for a while and I finally get a voicemail or text simply saying, “You’re a jerk”. She’s right, too. I time and time again fail in my responsibility of maintaining a relationship.
God certainly doesn’t depend on me for anything, but living with a casual attitude about faith, feeling that it’s good enough to sit on the back burner for awhile is an arrogant and detrimental outlook.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith.
Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Fear is not the only reason to take seriously our responsibility in our relationship with God.
2 Peter 1:3-11
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
When I place my relationship with God on the “back burner” because I think it’s pretty good where it is, I am not only “conforming to the pattern of this world”, but saying to Christ crucified that I’d rather go about living the life he bought for me my own way.
It is obvious that my relationships with friends and family would be better and stronger if I put more effort into maintaining them. As for my relationship with God, I cannot imagine a greater motivation than the words of Romans 8.
(select verses... but you should really read the whole chapter)
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.