What’s a relationship without change?
On May 14 Paula and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. As we shared a celebratory meal together on that Saturday, and then as we shared in worship the next day, we reflected on how we had changed as individuals, how our faith had developed and grown, our attitudes to life, the values we held had been challenged and reformed and how the hopes and the fears of the early years seemed strange and alien to imagine in our lives now.
Together we have shared a journey which has changed us; not intentionally but because of the journey, the places we have been, the people we have met, the experiences we have enjoyed (or not), the issues we have faced and addressed.
We are not the same people who stood in front of the Lord’s Table at Double Bay Uniting Church 28 years ago.
In many ways life is not as simple as it once seemed to be; the issues we face are more complex and yet the relationship is stronger than ever.
It is hard to imagine — indeed it is scary to contemplate — life without each other because in so many ways the theory put forth on our wedding day has become a reality: two have become one.
I always say to couples for whom I am conducting a wedding, “It is important to love the person you are marrying, not the person you hope to make them into. However, if you truly love each other you will both change. If you do not change then there is not a real relationship.”
It is also true of our relationship with Jesus.
When we accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, Jesus accepts us and loves us as we are. Undoubtedly, as we live in that relationship and are embraced by that love, we will change but also there is a sense in which, as we relate to Jesus and our love for him grows, Jesus will change also.
Jesus will reveal more of himself, our understanding of God will deepen and will be challenged and be given new perspectives. The Jesus we come to know will not be the same as the one we first met.
This is not to deny that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, but maybe it is, rather, that we come to know Jesus more fully.
My life with Jesus is not quite as simple as when I first believed.
There are many more theological challenges, questions about the values I hold, probing into the way I understand my faith and God’s purpose and call on my life.
Jesus isn’t always saying, “Hold fast to what you first believed” but rather, “Continue on the journey with me that your eyes may be opened, your faith may be stronger, your bias towards grace magnified, your trust in me more unconditional, and your recognition that life and a world without God, even in the midst of mystery and uncertainty, will become harder to imagine and scary to contemplate.”