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Lessons from the Bar

“Every Christian I know talks about God.”

Said the person sitting across the table from me last week at the bar where an informal Israeli and American Jewish group gathers for a Boys Night Out.  His accent made me lean in to make sure I was hearing what he wanted to say.

“God is not someone you have a relationship with.”  He puffed up his chest and shoulders, hands on his hips to present an imposing figure, and said, “He’s a commandeer-in-chief, not a kind, loving person.”

I really appreciated his honesty, and that he felt comfortable enough to say what he really thinks.  He wasn’t on the attack.  He was curious.

Another man, overhearing the conversation, said, “Watch out.  You’ll end up on his blog or in a sermon.”   That person often asks me if I’m getting ‘any material’ for my sermons by hanging out with this group.

“Yeah, I talk about you all the time.  Your relationship with your dad is one of the best examples I know of the kind of relationship God wants to enjoy with us.” 

He beams.

I learn so much from my friends on Wednesday night.  I’m forced to really understand what I believe, or even more, what I actually experience with God.

A relationship with God?

“We learned it from your faith,” I said.  King David said that there was nothing better in the whole world than to have a relationship with God.”

How important to make sure that that is exactly what we have with God – a relationship.  I can’t believe how easily I settle for a non-relationship – evangelical deism.

Evangelical deism?

Believing that God exists, is there, but not relationally engaged.  He’s given us the manual in the Bible.  Become expert in it, follow its instructions and God will be happy.  God has spoken.  He doesn’t need to speak now.  If he is active at all, it is as the CEO who’s running things, but your position on the org chart eliminates any meaningful interaction.

One of the ways I am learning how to be in relationship with God is through prayer.  I ‘m learning to trust God with more details of my life.  Things that would never make my prayer radar are popping up on it.  Conversations, interactions, hopes for others.  Doing more and more of my life with God is not making God more present.  He was there all along.  It’s making me more present to God.

And you know what?  It’s like being able to see Aslan.   There he was at a bar last week, generating meaningful talk.  I bet he’ll be there tonight.

How do you best experience a relationship with God?

Comments

  1. What a lovely blog, Mark. I'm savoring some of the images.  Thank you for sharing.  KP

  2. I agree with my mom, Karen.  I too am feeling I want to savor this one. I also just like Any mention of 'Aslan'. Really though, I am always greatly encouraged and given new perspectives when I hear the goings on at your wed night men's group. Thank you for sharing.