Why are most popular stories in books, movies, television and songs focused on relationships? And why do these stories resonate so strongly with us that we spend millions-make that billions- of dollars on pursuing them? Even in stories primarily about events we find ourselves drawn to the interplay between characters small and large.
The history of our God and His relationship to humans is the story that inspires the relationship stories to which we are all attracted. We were designed to be relational beings, that relationships contribute to our thriving and interdependence. The consequences of being chronically deprived relationally can be devastating to us, for relationships are vital to our senses of happiness, physical, and psychological well-being. The universal drive for relationships points to the idea that we are made for a permanent relationship in which we will find our highest expression and fulfillment.
That permanent relationship is, of course, the God-human relationship. It alone gives to the human the opportunity for reliable fulfillment.
The history of the human-divine relationship is one of intimacy bestowed, intimacy lost, intimacy restored, and the intimate relationship continuously pursued. In His great love, our God made us to relate to Himself so that we might share in deep communion with Him, a mutually satisfying relationship that He did not need but that would resonate with us at our deepest level. That history proceeded on to the humans rejecting that relationship and pursuing selfish ends to their own peril, then further to the dramatic and costly move by our God to restore the relationship.
That story continues with overture after overture by our God to humans on the individual and societal levels, pleas for the restoration of the friendship and intimacy borne out of love. These are not pleas borne of weakness or need on our God’s part; He has need of nothing and no one. They are the pleas of a loving and gracious God Who just wants to spend time with people He created, loving them with great kindness.
“Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away, but love stays with us. Love is God.” ― Lew Wallace, “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.”