All human beings live under the illusion they are the ones who are in control of their lives. Especially Americans see themselves as “rugged individualists” who have a “I can do it by myself and don’t need anyone else to help me”attitude. This even shows up in our attitude toward church in the feeling that “I don’t need the church. I can have my own personal relationship with God without s bunch of sinners around me who are more messed up than me. ” These people say “I am not religious, I’m spiritual’.
This illusion is exposed when we face end of life. I am seeing how illusory the attitude is as I grow more and more dependent on hospice and on those I love There are many things I can’t do and my wife and son Greg are always there to help me. Without them I would be in a nursing home already—-but with them with me and with hospice I am able to be home in surroundings I love. I am loved and cared for by others and am very blessed with a church family who visits, sends cards a . I am seeing how false the illusion of “individualism”is as I get telephone calls and cards from friends and loved ones both in the church and outside the church.
We are born to live in relationship with others. We started as babies completely dependent on our parents for a long period of time., and many of us end our lives in the same way—dependent on those who love us. All of our lives we need relationships. We are created in the image of God who wants relationship with us—- Love is a relationship word and cannot be limited anymore than God can be limited . Love is shown only through action in relationship to others;
We need others in our lives if we love God. God is not completely loved by us until we love our neighbors., because they are all God’s children. It is the role of the church to provide those relationships and to encourage us to develop relationships with God and our fellow human beings. To those who who say “I have a personal relationship with God and that’s all I need” I would say “stop fooling yourself.” You cannot fully love God if you don’t fully love your neighbors., God’s children, made in God’s image.
God works with these neighbors to provide his love and care to you. They actually are the deliverers of God’s grace. You cannot receive God’s love and care on a bank with a fishing pole in your hand. You receive God’s love through others who love God and are recipients of God’s love and grace.