Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Real Thing

We recently had some favorite friends come to visit. To say that these ladies are troublemakers would be an understatement, but boy do we have fun when they arrive. Their recent visit was scheduled so that they could get a look at the White House all decorated for Christmas. When we started placing their luggage in our car though, I noticed they had brought something extra along. In the words of my twenty-four year old son, “Mom, please tell me we do not have a cardboard cutout of our president in the back of the car.” Yes, my friends had brought a life-sized cardboard photo of President George H. W. Bush.

On the day of the much anticipated White House tour, we met downtown with George in the back seat. After the tour, they brought him into the White House Visitor’s Center to surprise a friend. What happened next was really interesting. As they began to make photos of themselves and the cutout next to a replica White House Christmas tree, a small group began to gather. Complete strangers began asking if they could have their picture made next to the cutout. George was soon packed up and taken to the gate in front of the White House south lawn for more photo ops. Again, total strangers wanted to have their photo with the cutout. We laughed until we cried. How could a piece of cardboard create such excitement?

Is it not amazing how in our culture today, we are often more excited over replicas than the real thing? Sometimes I think we are such a media saturated culture that we relate more easily to an image than to reality. Have you ever been in an auditorium using large screen projections of a speaker and found yourself looking at the screen instead of the speaker – even when you were close enough to see the real thing? I know I have.

There is one particular area in life where we must be ever vigilant that we do not let image take the place of the real thing. Our relationship with God must be based not on images or replicas. We cannot latch onto the faith of our parents or grandparents, spouses or friends. We must not hang onto the ideas of a pastor or the thoughts of a good teacher. Our relationship with God must be a real, vital, personal, living thing with the Creator of the universe.

So how does that look in daily life? What does that mean as I go through the normal routines of my average days? For me, it is about whether or not I am thinking about Him, talking with Him, and spending time in His word allowing it to transform my mind. My real relationship with God looks different from day to day, just like my relationship with my husband has not been the same each day over the past twenty plus years. Some days, we talk a lot. Some days, we do not. Some days, I read His word a lot. Some days, I do not. What does it mean for you?

My relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is meant to be a living thing. Just like all relationships, it will have ebbs and flows, based on my current moods, disciplines, etc. Thank goodness, there is no ebb and flow in Christ. The Bible tells me He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And that my friend is the real thing.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)