God Hates Long-Distance Relationships

Some Things are Better Live:

I don’t know how much it costs to make beer commercials, but they often catch my attention. Recently, one commercial stood out because of the way it hints at a key Biblical idea. The basic thrust for the commercial is that “Some things are better live.” It starts by asking questions like, “Why do we fly to festivals every year? Or drive five hundred kilometers to hear a song that’s already in your pocket?” The answer: “There’s still some things that can’t be downloaded…some things you have to see with your own two eyes.”

Experience is Better than Theory:

The Bible also insists that live is better. From the beginning, God reveals himself to humanity not as an ideal, but as a person. This starts in the Garden of Eden, when God walks with Adam and Eve. Sadly, after sin enters the world people can’t come before God’s presence without a mediator. This is demonstrated most clearly at Mount Sinai, when the people of Israel insist that Moses act as their mediator, because they’re afraid of dealing with God directly. Later, the people want a king so they can be like the surrounding nations. God honors their request, but he reminds them that he wanted to lead his people without a middleman (1 Sam. 8:7). This pattern reveals that with God, truth is experiential, not theoretical.

Show and Tell:

To get inside this idea, imagine a boy who brings a snake to show and tell. The other kids are bored as he explains statistics about the snake, etc. Now picture the children’s faces as the boy drops a mouse in the cage. Immediately the other children can understand why this boy was so fond of his snake. Now picture the next kid, a girl who forgot to bring something for show and tell. Not wanting to be outdone, she stands up and proudly says, “I have a lion at home!”

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Similarly, our God doesn’t just tell us about himself from afar, instead he comes in the person of Jesus. S. D. Gordon put it this way: “Jesus is God spelling himself out in a language that man can understand.” 1)S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks About Jesus (1906). This always reminds me of the story of Jesus and Pilate. When Pilate questions Jesus, he asks Jesus to explain himself. Jesus responds, explaining that he “came into the world to testify to the truth”, and that “everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” At this point, Pilate is exasperated and asks one last question: “What is truth?” Pilate leaves before Jesus has a chance to respond, which makes sense; after all, truth is not an idea, truth is a person.

Why God Hates Long-Distance Relationships:

If Jesus is truth, and truth has come to our world as a person, this means we can’t know truth through the intellect. Yes, the intellect is necessary, but more is required. As Jesus told Martha: “Only one thing is needed”, and what is needed is relationship.

The Jews had a saying: “He who has no teacher is no learner, no matter how diligently he studies.” 2)Rengstorf, K. H., “Mathetes” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, eds., G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans).

Jesus came in person, but he wants to continue to reveal truth to his people. This is why Jesus promised to send His Spirit to guide us “into all the truth” (John 16:13). Its also why we don’t need a teacher, because God sends the Spirit of Jesus–the Spirit of Truth–to teach each Christian (1 John 2:27). For this reason, we no longer need a mediator. Jesus, who is truth, is our guide. This means we have no choice but to approach truth relationally, that is, through Jesus Christ. To put it another way: God hates long-distance relationships, because truth is better live!

“God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away.” 3)Oswald, Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Simpkin Marshall: London, 1935).

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God Hates Long-Distance Relationships

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