Episode 50

December 12, 2023


What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship With God? with Daniel Fleming

Hosted by

Erik Rasmussen
What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship With God? with Daniel Fleming
The Concerning Him Podcast
What Does It Mean to Have a Relationship With God? with Daniel Fleming

Dec 12 2023 | 00:46:08


Show Notes

Daniel Fleming, an Emmaus alum, joins Erik on the podcast to discuss how exactly the Bible teaches that Christians relate to God.

Concerning Him - https://concerninghim.com/
Concerning Him Podcast - https://concerninghim.com/podcast/

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Speaker A: Welcome back to another episode of the concerning Hymn podcast brought to you by Emmaus Bible College. My name is Eric Rasmussen. For more information about Emmaus, please visit Emmaus.edu for more information about concerning him or to listen to more podcasts like this one. Any sermons or messages from our chapel here at Emmaus Bible College blog article, all the above you can visit concerninghim.com. Today we've got a great episode. Daniel Fleming. Dr. Daniel Fleming just recently just finished his dissertation, and we're having a fun conversation about what that was about. And ultimately, really we got to talk about what does it mean to have a relationship with God. This is terminology that we use as Christians all the time. Sit down with coffee, somebody, and say, hey, what's your relationship with the Lord like? What's your walk been like? And it was really fascinating to have a conversation with Daniel about what does that mean from a biblical perspective, to have a relationship with God, thinking about it specifically within the context of a covenant. So stick around. It's a great conversation. And we're here with Daniel Fleming. Welcome, Daniel. Nice to have you. [00:01:16] Speaker B: Thank you. It's good to be on. [00:01:19] Speaker A: I've talked to you for a while. I think about coming on the podcast probably two years, so I'm glad to have you on. And I'm excited for what we're going to talk about today, which is related to your recent dissertation that you wrote. You told me at church the other night that you finally just dotted the final I's, crossed the final T's. [00:01:37] Speaker B: You know, the final I's always money. [00:01:42] Speaker A: So you're good to go. You are Dr. Daniel Fleming. [00:01:45] Speaker B: Yes. [00:01:46] Speaker A: And so it's great to have you on. I don't know if that's your first time really being called Doctor. [00:01:50] Speaker B: You make a couple of people jumped the gun. [00:01:52] Speaker A: Okay. But you are a current professor at University of Dubuque here in town. [00:01:58] Speaker B: Yes. [00:01:58] Speaker A: You're also an adjunct professor both online and in person for Emmaus Bible College. But before we get into kind of all of your dissertation and what we're going to Talk about, I want to let you just kind of talk about your story. And we were just talking before we started recording that. I'll let you get into detail. But you studied both computers and Bible here as a student, which know everybody's a double major if you're not just a Bible major. But then you continued to keep doing both, which is fascinating. So I want to hear about that. [00:02:32] Speaker B: Sure. So I'll back up before then. [00:02:34] Speaker A: Yeah, go ahead. [00:02:35] Speaker B: I was born grew up in Colombia, born in Peru. Grew up in Colombia. Missionary kid my whole life. And I came, actually moved back to the States to come to Emmaus and did my four years here. I was planning to do one, and I ended up doing four. Got my Bible degree, computer degree. Had a blast here. We had a really good year of computer students. I then decided that I hated computers and was never, ever going to touch them again. And so I went to Trinity to get more theology training with the idea of doing philosophy and doing apologetics. Long story short, God kept opening doors in technology. Everyone needs another IT person and closing doors in philosophy. So I ended up there. I got a PhD through Trinity in theology, but I now teach every day in cybersecurity. [00:03:29] Speaker A: Okay. [00:03:30] Speaker B: So I enjoy the mix. It gives me a unique niche where I can speak into the technological world and I can speak into the theological world, and I can talk about ethics and technology and the bigger picture, where we're going, what technology means for life, which I find really fun. [00:03:48] Speaker A: And you are part of a bigger Emmaus family? The Fleming family. [00:03:53] Speaker B: Yes. [00:03:53] Speaker A: Our last episode, I was interviewing Beth Peltula. I'm going to mispronounce her name every time, but formerly Beth Grove. We talked about her recent book on understanding Islam. And she was referring to your grandfather as Uncle Fleming, who taught here for many, many years in the Intercultural studies department. Correct. [00:04:13] Speaker B: 25, I think, ish, something like that. [00:04:16] Speaker A: A long time. And he's now retired. Your father, like you're talking about, grew up in Colombia. He was a missionary in coLombia. How long was he there for? [00:04:26] Speaker B: So he did Peru. He was eight years in Colombia. 16. And he's continued traveling all over the world the last 15 years with Emmaus worldwide. [00:04:36] Speaker A: And so you come from a family that's very missional mindset. Right. Related, obviously, to Pete Fleming. [00:04:44] Speaker B: Yes. [00:04:45] Speaker A: One of the Ecuadorian martyrs. And so you've kind of gone this route of cybersecurity and more philosophy, theology. Any thoughts on that? Why not missions? Well, kind of put you on the spot. I didn't warn you this question, but I'm curious. [00:05:05] Speaker B: The answer is, because the church is the church everywhere. [00:05:08] Speaker A: Absolutely. [00:05:08] Speaker B: Here, overseas. And the students I get at UD are my mission field. Many of them are nominal Christians or not churched at all. We have a small Muslim population on the campus, and because it is at least a nominally Christian university, I get to be open about my faith. So I open class sometimes by reading Scripture, even though it's a computer class. I'll talk about something I read and try and apply it. I'll pray with students if they're interested and willing and I get to live my faith openly and hope I'm planting seeds. [00:05:47] Speaker A: That's pretty interesting. I think most people in town would probably maybe understanding that University of Buke is connected to the PCUSA, but would think about UD as being a secular institution where that type of stuff wouldn't be allowed. [00:06:01] Speaker B: No, it is. Our seminary is one of our flagship elements, so even our president, they're searching for a new president right now and one of the requirements is a statement of faith for the president. [00:06:14] Speaker A: It's always fun when I'm reading theology books and you see different references to University of the Bulk. Yeah. But let's talk just real quick. If you could give us a quick overview of your dissertation that you just finished. [00:06:28] Speaker B: Sure. Okay. To put it in non academic words. [00:06:34] Speaker A: Okay. [00:06:34] Speaker B: No one likes academic words. I don't even like academic words. The question I'm trying to answer is how do we know God? [00:06:39] Speaker A: Okay. [00:06:40] Speaker B: And if you look at the material, you see a lot of, well, study your bIble. You know him through his revealed word. But God is not a thing to be known. I don't know God the way I know my coffee table. I don't know God the way I know my house. Even. God's a person. In fact, he is the person, the original person, the ultimate person. And so we've got to know him in relationship. But that relationship is broken by sin. We broke it. So what does that look like? What does a broken relationship look like in Restoration? Well, God, because he's the injured party, he gets to tell us. And so he does. And he says, covenant. [00:07:23] Speaker A: Okay? [00:07:23] Speaker B: Covenant is the particular relationship. So he's taking that ancient Near Eastern model and fulfilling it in our lives. And so I spend my whole dissertation unpacking. So what does a Covenant relationship look like? And it's communal, it's whole person. So it's mind, body, action, emotion. It's heavily influenced by ritual and. Right, because God is looking not only to have us know him, but we've got to be reshaped into the kind of people that can know him and that takes those covenant rituals to do. [00:07:58] Speaker A: So it's pretty commonly a part of Christiansee. [00:08:02] Speaker B: Yes. [00:08:02] Speaker A: To talk about your relationship with God, your walk with God. And these aren't necessarily bad things, but it's a pretty common phrase. You hear two Christians sit down and get coffee and how's your walk going? How's your relationship with God going? And so what? I'm excited to talk to you today about is what does it mean to have a relationship with God in the context of this Covenant that you're talking about? And I want to start with maybe could you just define when you talk about a covenant, what do you mean? [00:08:30] Speaker B: All right, so, yeah, that's a good question. Because Covenant can mean a theological thing. It can mean a Biblical thing. And then within the Bible there are several different biblical relationships called Covenants. So you've got the Big obvious Ones that are listed in the Bible. Noah, Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and the New Covenant. They're actually called Covenants. So I'd kind of take my cue from that. Like, okay, what are the common elements across a covenant? And what it is, is it was part of their societal structure. So we kind of got to step back into a society we're not a part of. Family was a lot more important 3000 years ago. And you started with your core family, mom, dad, kids, but that core family was part of a clan. Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins. And that clan was part of a tribe. And that's how you defined your power relationships. That's how you defined who you were. You were part of this tribe. And so you take for example, the sin of Aiken. And how do they choose? They start with the whole nation and they choose a tribe. And then from a tribe they choose a clan. And then from a clan they choose a family. And from a family they choose a man. Because that was who you were. There was no, I'm Dan Fleming, the professor. That's secondary. I'm Dan Fleming, son of Jim, grandson of Ken, husband, brother, father. And so covenant then is taking those relationships and saying, well, what happens when we hit the edge of our bloodline relationships? How do we expand our network across those? And so kings would use covenants to extend from one tribe to another, say, hey, we're going to ally our tribes. Families would intermarry across tribal lines. And that was an extension. So it's kind of in, I don't want to say unnatural, but it's an extension of what the family structure was into non bloodline and non blood relatives. You're creating a bigger family essentially. Now God specifically is bringing us back into family. So covenant with God is, we were his family. We did the prodigal son thing as humans, all of us, and we said, no, we do not want to be part of your family. And that's what the prodigal son is saying to his dad. He's like, dad, you're dead. I'm no longer part of this. This family's. Breaking up. I'm going my own way. And so, to be accepted back, to take the prodigal son back into relationship with God means there's got to be some structures and rituals and ways to show that we are actually back in relationship, show our commitment, because the commitment's been lost, the trust has been broken. And so the most common way is God, of course, is God. He's high up and he imposes covenant upon us like a king upon a country he has just conquered. And those are called Susarenti treaties, or Suzeranti covenants. Old word for super king versus little king. And so we've got those. So when God is talking to all of his people, there's always that power differential. Sometimes he's just flat out promising things, like a king would promise, I am going to keep your country safe. You're now part of my kingdom, part of my clan, and so I'm going to keep you safe like I'd keep my own family safe. Other times, he's making demands. All right, now that you're part of my country, you got to pay taxes, you got to pay homage to the king. You've got to maintain the safety of your own area, whatever it was, same thing. So we see, like Abraham, God just flat out makes promises from you. You'll get land, you'll get seed, and you will get a blessing to the whole world. So, God, just as the king comes down and says, this is how I'm going to restore my relationship. I'm going to reach out and promise you good things. Other times, with Moses, with David, he reaches out and says, all right, here's my promises to you, and here's what you're going to do for me in return. And if any individual breaks that new relationship, well, it's like they've left the family all over again and they need to come back into the family. So that's what a covenant is. [00:12:49] Speaker A: Okay? [00:12:50] Speaker B: Is that clear? [00:12:51] Speaker A: No, that's really helpful. And so then taking that and now thinking about the modern, 21st century Christian whose primary way to commune with God is through scripture, through prayer, these things. What does that covenant relationship look like? What does it mean today to have a relationship with God? Maybe I'll just. That really simple question in the context of covenant. [00:13:17] Speaker B: Yeah. This is one of those areas where when you use a word enough times, it starts to lose its meaning. I don't know if you ever sat down and just repeated a word over and over to yourself until you start to be like, wait, what does that even mean, like the sounds just don't sound right. It doesn't sound like there's any context to this now jumble of sounds. So relationship. Yeah, we've got to have relationship with God, but it's very fuzzy. It's kind of become that. Not to say that it's a bad concept. It's the concept God's chosen, so we just got to figure it out. So in a covenant relationship, there are two things we tend not to focus on in kind of the low church evangelicalism. We're a part of one, it's not just an individual relationship. It's not just me and God. Being called into covenant is coming back into that family structure. We're in God's family now, in God's clan and God's kingdom, and there's a whole lot to go to unpack there. The other part is, God's given us certain rituals that not only help us know God, but shape us, change us into the kinds of people that can know God. [00:14:25] Speaker A: I think some people are going to get uncomfortable when you use the word ritual. Okay, so what do you mean by ritual? [00:14:29] Speaker B: Let's talk about ritual. Yeah, let's unpack ritual. So we all go through life doing things, acting in certain ways. Sometimes it's a one off action. How I drink a cup of coffee. It's not the same from day to day. Sometimes I add creamer, sometimes I don't. Those aren't rituals. Those are just actions. Sometimes we form our lives into habits. And so if you look at, like, James Clear's Atomic Habits book, which is on the bestseller lists currently all over, okay, habits are actions that we do enough that we can just do them on autopilot. So, like, when I get in the car in the morning, if I'm not actively thinking about where I'm going, I end up at work. And I have several times tried to go to church or a friend's house and pulled into my parking spot at work and go, what am I doing? It's a habit. So the goal of habit is to become unconscious. We don't have to put in the effort to think about it. So if you try and develop a habit of eating healthy, the goal is, I don't want to have to think about it. I want to just do it kind of like a robot on autopilot. Rituals, on the other hand, are actions that are carefully scripted, that are carefully planned for and repeated in a very specific way with a very specific goal. And so let's start with the script. In the case of divine rituals, the rituals God gives us. We have a particular script laid out so in the Church, when we take communion, God has given us a script. Do this in remembrance of me. And then if you go into first Corinthians, as many churches do, you then read exactly the way, breaking the bread and sharing the cup. We've done that first time. That's the script. It's given by God. If you go into the Old Testament, it would be Passover. There's a very specific script of things you have to do in order for Passover to be done correctly. But within that script, it's not just a script we memorize and then do on autopilot. A ritual is intended to shape our whole lives. And so think about Passover. Let's go back to Passover. What's the main sacrifice in Passover? The lamb. [00:16:44] Speaker A: Right? [00:16:45] Speaker B: You're killing a lamb to eat a meal. But think about all the preparation that went into that. The shepherd spent all night birthing a lamb, thinking, hey, maybe this will be the one in a year without blemish. And then they're raising these lambs, okay, which one's the one without blemish for this year? Which one's going to be the Passover sacrifice? And they maybe spend some extra attention on it. Or when you're giving your first fruits to God, you grow that extra 10% of wheat or whatever it is you need, knowing when you put the sickle to it. This is a mine. This goes to God, and you're planning for it. Let's come back to Passover. You get the lamb and think all the preparations that go into the day itself, making sure the leaven is out of your house, making sure you've got unleavened bread, and then you're ready to eat the lamb, and you go, oh, we're not enough. We got to eat this whole lamb in one night. So we got to invite people over. So we're planning this ahead of time. We're bringing all of this. It's shaping the entire year. It's shaping everything from the immediate end of Passover till the beginning of the next Passover. It's always sitting in the back of your mind, is this the lamb? Who am I going to invite over if my clan's not big enough or if I'm too poor, who am I going to eat with that's going to provide, help, provide the lamb? So, on the one hand, rituals, we need to not be scared of the word ritual. [00:18:13] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:18:14] Speaker B: Because God has given them to us. And so if God's given it to us. It's good. Yes, we twist it. And the second thing is God seems to have created us for ritual. Because ritual isn't just in the Old Testament. You go to any culture, any religion, and they will have their set of rituals that they do. Same thing. It's shaping them. It's a year long, week long, month long, however often they do it process that they're always focused towards. And if it's done properly, it's a whole person thing. It's not just my body acting on Autopilot because I've got the script memorized. It's me getting in there and allowing the script to transform my life. [00:18:55] Speaker A: I think that's important because I think a lot of people hearing that word ritual are going to think like a cold, dead, legalistic action that I just have to take to check my box. I got to check my box. And now I'm a good Christian because I did this ritual. And people say, no, Christian life, it's not rituals and these things you do, it's about your relationship with God. And I think what you're saying is these rituals, when done correctly, are changing our mindset and bringing us or helping us in this relationship that we have with God. They actually make a difference in the relationship. These two things aren't at ODs. [00:19:31] Speaker B: No, and you've got a point. You look at any and all of the prophets, what are they complaining about? Israel's doing the ritual but only doing it. They're not engaging in it. It's not the whole person showing up and saying, this is what I've prepared for. This is what I've thought about. This is where I've set my hope and my emotions. This is how I've been building my entire social structure around this event. [00:20:02] Speaker A: So the answer isn't necessarily, it's not toss out the ritual. You're not actually doing with how you're defining ritual. You're not actually doing the ritual. You're living life on autopilot. It's more of a habit. It actually needs to become a ritual in order to change you, right? Yep. Okay. [00:20:22] Speaker B: But then it does change you. Okay, so we get together around the bread and the cup every week we remember Jesus. That's the main focus. Do this in remembrance of me. But remembering him shapes our entire week before too, doesn't it? We're confessing sin. We're making sure someone doesn't have something against us. We are focused on who Jesus is. And hopefully all that preparation down to the mundane, let's make sure the cups are filled. Let's make sure the lights are on. All of that allows for the space for us to then sit and reflect on. Wow. What did Jesus do for me? What should I do in response? Not because I have to, he's not taking away his blessing, but because I'm a new person. I'm a new kind of person. The Old Testament makes it so much clearer. So you think about the Passover. What did they have to change? Well, an old curmudgeonly person who's on their own can't celebrate Passover properly because I don't know about you, but I can't eat an entire lamb in one sitting by myself. [00:21:30] Speaker A: I might have a better shot than. [00:21:31] Speaker B: You, but probably not. I like my lamb, but that's a lot of meat. So you got to shape yourself into the kind of person that has a group of friends that you can get together with or a family that recognizes your part in that society, in that covenant community, or you come to that every seven years when you're supposed to let your field life fallow. What kind of a person does that? Man, I only got enough wheat last year for my year and I got to go two years. That takes trust, but it also shapes trust because by sayinG, okay, I'm going to let it lie fallow, you're also becoming more the type of person who can trust God like, okay, trusting, it's kind of a feedback loop. Trusting breeds trust and becoming. Doing the actions breeds becoming the kind of person which can do the actions more fully, more as a whole person. [00:22:30] Speaker A: It's interesting. You're causing me to think about, and I don't remember who wrote it, but a blog article I read a couple of years ago and I have to scroll back. I think I retweeted it so I'd have to scroll back and find it. But the author was talking about how our lives, our individual lives throughout the week if lived in a manner that's with focused on worshipping the Lord causes us to be better worshipping when we come to corporate worship, and then when we go to corporate worship or going to church, that then changes us so that we do a better job in individual worship throughout the week and living a lifestyle of worship and that our actions work and all these things are done in a way that can be defined as worship. And so it's a similar, like that whole loop of the individual affects the corporate, the corporate affects the individual as far as worship. And it's similar with the ritual idea of, yeah, I think this is a fascinating topic. Do you have more on this? Because I also want to get back to you talking about the covenant is not isolated, and I think this is related to what we're talking about now. And I want to make sure that we don't skip over that part. That was kind of your first thing that you had talked about. [00:23:43] Speaker B: No, let's go there. Yeah, that would be a good spot. Because we so often talk about my relationship with God. Yes, and yes, there is an element of individuality, but the truth is, none of us are individuals. None of us can survive on our own. Last I checked, I have no idea how to weave the clothes, the fabric for the clothes I wear or grow my own food or any of the 100,000 other things that I do in my day I rely on other people for. So we already are sort of in a community, whether we acknowledge it or not. Even the most rugged individualist out on the mountain probably didn't forge his own axe blade, which he used to fell the tree to make his firewood, that kind of thing. We're all part of a community, but we need to bring that back and foreground it, because when God calls us into community, he's calling us into a family relationship. It's not just, oh, it's my group of friends. We're family. I got to take care of you the same way I take care of my kids. Of course, age appropriate and all that. But it's a deeper connection than we realize, which is one of the reasons that church fights get so painful, because it is a family fight. They're the people closest to you. But when we come to knowing God, interestingly enough, communities have been shown to act kind of like a single person. Sometimes they develop their own ways of knowing and their own knowledge that not necessarily any individual human person within that community has. But they've developed this process for figuring out what works, what's true, and it's part of the community, not part of any individual within the community, which expands what we can know about God, because God is the first community we believe in God, the three and one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So he's ever in community, and he created us in his image. We need to be working together to know God, to be part of that community. He's restoring it gives us a new vision of him, not just because you see things one way and I see things another way, but because the tradition we're a part of, the whole Christian church has almost a life of its own. There's a reason God can call us all the bride of Christ as one corporate entity we take on in some ways. I'm not saying the church is a person, like we're not all going to fuse into one. That's heresy. I'm not ready to do heresy yet, but there is a way in which a community of people spread out over time, works through things, works through crisis points, comes to ways of figuring out what's true, matures, grows and changes, and acts just like a human being does, just like a person does. [00:26:39] Speaker A: That's fascinating. And so I think I'll be careful not to let this go down a more political way. But there was a lot of conversation around COVID a few years ago with, well, I don't need to go to church because I am the church. And again, I'm not trying to make any proclamations of what was the right and wrong thing to do with local gatherings at that time, but some of that since we've kind of moved forward, and it's pretty much universally everybody's okay with going back to church, there have been some people kind of still lingering who said, kind of developed this mindset in the process of I don't need the body of Christ, I am the church. I am as an individual. And kind of what you're saying is that's missing the point. Oh yeah. This commandment in Hebrews ten, of Hebrews ten, right. Do not forsake the assembly of yourselves together isn't just an arbitrary commandment that God gives, but this is part of how we relate to God. Right? [00:27:38] Speaker B: That's what you're saying, getting together in church. I should say this, I define the Christian rituals a little more broadly than communion and baptism. Okay, I'll take acts two. The preaching of the word, fellowship together. I think these are all prayer, these are all rituals that we need to be doing both individually and corporately. And yeah, that view, you may not want to say that it's wrong, it's wrong. Oh, it's wrong. [00:28:05] Speaker A: I'm more not wanting to get into the COVID aspect. [00:28:08] Speaker B: Okay, I'm going to get dogmatic here. [00:28:09] Speaker A: Okay, go ahead. [00:28:11] Speaker B: The Internet is a beautiful thing and I love that we can zoom our meetings or YouTube them now because there are people who flat out need that. There are people who cannot get out of the house and it has to be church to them. It's better than not having church. But just like in rituals, we can't go on autopilot and let our body do the action without our mind and our will and our spirit. Being engaged. So also, our mind is not everything. We are. We are not brains on sticks. We're not trapped in these accidental bodies. That's a heresy. We dealt with that. John dealt with it very early. Yes. So saying, oh, I am the church. No, in fact, you are not. You are a member of the church, but you are not the whole church. And you as a person are a whole person member of the church. It's not just your mind that's part of the church. It's not just your singing voice, it's your body, too. It's showing up. There's so much we miss about each other when we're online. And so now you're taking me down. My second love. Technology here. [00:29:19] Speaker A: Yeah, go ahead. [00:29:20] Speaker B: So again, online has been a huge boon. I've been working over this recently, and my sister got to participate in my grandpa's funeral live, even though she was stuck in Germany during COVID times because of the Internet. There are wonderful things the Internet's doing. It's expanding our reach. It's shrinking the amount of time and effort we have to do to get to other people around the world to share our Christian community. But at the same time, when we've got something in between us, we lose some aspects of our humanity. Putting a screen in between two people, it's harder to pick up on the cues, the nonverbals, the body language, things like that. Same for church. You got to show up because you are a whole person. You're not your mind, you're not your body, you're not your spirit. You are all three. We're not either insold bodies or embodied souls. We are persons created in the image of God, body and soul. Both parts are important. And so showing up to church, it's important. It's important for yourself, and it's important for the other people around you. [00:30:34] Speaker A: In thinking about the Church as a family, it strikes me that one of the things that's important, obviously, what you're talking about, the worship and the breaking of bread and the public proclamation of the Word and fellowship and prayer, and these things are really important. I think about that fellowship aspect. Know, we go to a church now where my parents go. My wife's family lives up in Minnesota, and my daughteR, who's two, has like three different other ladies besides my mother, who she views like a grandmother, runs up to them, gives them big hug, jumps on them, has a nickname for one of them, right? And she could barely talk, but she's got this nickname and there's a family relationship there. Where there is comfort. I love when right at the end of a meeting, my daughter will get up and run over to one of them and go give them a hug because she's so excited to see them. Because it's a family. This is something that you don't get to experience. If me and my daughter, my wife just stayed home and just did Zoom, and that's all we did. Right. Like we are losing out on this way in which ultimately to relate to God through the corporate body. Right. [00:31:49] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:31:50] Speaker A: So this is a great conversation. I'm fascinated. Are there aspects that we're missing that we haven't talked about yet that you want to dive into still? [00:32:01] Speaker B: Let's go back to knowing for just a minute, please, because I kind of jumped the gun on. What do you mean by knowing? What does it mean to know God? You know your house, right? [00:32:14] Speaker A: Or your. [00:32:14] Speaker B: Do you live in a house? [00:32:15] Speaker A: Apartment. [00:32:15] Speaker B: Apartment. You know your apartment. [00:32:17] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:32:17] Speaker B: What does it mean to know your apartment? [00:32:19] Speaker A: Just kind of know where things are at and located. [00:32:21] Speaker B: Right. [00:32:21] Speaker A: And I could probably walk around with my eyes closed. Yeah. [00:32:24] Speaker B: You've got a very definite, what we'd call a subject object relationship. You're the thinker, the actor, and you know where something is. You know which light switch you have to wiggle to get to work, whatever the little nitpicky things are. You know which faucet leaks? Because one of my sink faucets leaks, so I know which one it is. Knowing another person, and especially God, isn't that kind of relationship. That's a very domineering relationship. So when I say I know God, I'm not saying I know God as if he were an encyclopedia or as if he were a light switch that I can just flick. I'm knowing another person. And that takes an entirely different kind of knowing and one that we've sort of lost because we've come to let science dominate, which is not a bad thing. But science says, hey, I am going to be an objective observer of reality, and I'm going to watch, and I watch an apple fall from a tree enough times, and I come up with the theory of gravity or whatever it is. We've got a clear cause effect and the human doesn't enter it at all. But that's flat out untrue. We enter into our knowledge, even scientific knowledge, by choosing what we're going to look at. Which variables are we going to do? How are we going to interpret them? How are we going to define knowledge? Because apples fall from trees all the time, but a dog has yet to invent the theory of gravitation. He doesn't have that ability. And so when we've got people on both sides of the knowing relationship, both the one who is doing the knowing and the one who is being known, now we've got an interesting, complex interaction. An apple can't hide its relationship for me. I can pluck it from the tree or pick it up from the ground. Look at it. It can't hide its color. I can open it up. It can't hide whether it's a good apple or a bad apple. It can't hide its flavor. I can dominate all of those things. But you can hide what you're thinking behind a blank expression. A person can be distant. A person can act in ways that are not what they truly believe. And so we've got to come to know God in the way he wants because he has to reveal himself. I mean, I have to reveal myself to you for you to know me. If I choose, I can lie, being a fallen sinner, I can do that. And I could tell you that coffee is better than tea, which it's not. [00:34:59] Speaker A: You could also choose just not to reveal. [00:35:01] Speaker B: Just not to reveal. [00:35:01] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:35:02] Speaker B: And so when we come to God, we have to come on his terms. It's a fascinating relationship. We need the Covenant because we need him to be willing to open himself up to us. We need him to be in the right disposition towards us. So let's go back to the prodigal son, which I mentioned earlier. [00:35:20] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:35:21] Speaker B: The Prodigal son, when he chose to run away, could not know his father Any longer as a father. Physical distance, for starters. But also the son's disposition. If the son's the one who's doing the knowing, let's say the father's the one who's to be known. The disposition on the son's part is wrong. So he's not emotionally able to relate to his father because he's declared him. You're dead to me. Yeah, get out of my life. All you are is a bag of money. And then when he comes back, the father has a choice. Does the father accept him back, or does he say no? Now we're going to have a master servant relationship, and a master and a servant know each other very, very differently from how a father and a son do, which is different from how two brothers know each other, which is different from how two friends know each other. I should hope that I know my brother better than his coworkers. I should definitely hope that I know my wife better than just about anybody else on the planet and that she knows me better than anybody else does. Parents possibly accepted? [00:36:27] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:36:27] Speaker B: And so coming back to God, it requires that relationship, that commitment on both parts. The known, the person we're knowing has to be willing to be known. And so we can't apply scientific knowing. We have to have a different category. We have to have this relational, the application of willingness and of openness of the structures that society demands of those relationships. There's a reason I know my brother better than I know a friend. Because just the way we, the society we live in, the water we're swimming in, gives us what we need to do for those relationships and how they're supposed to play out. Ideally, of course. And this is the part where I always get stuck, I guess. I'm talking about ideal relationships and I have to come back. I can't leave this without saying we're in a fallen world. People are going to be sinners and they're going to be selfish, and they're going to be broken relationships galore. So when I talk about an ideal father son relationship, ideal brother brother relationship, ideal husband wife relatIonship, it doesn't work out that way. And when we come to know God, the ideal relationship doesn't work out that way. But guess what? That's not God's fault. We know that, right? That's our fault. But when we're talking about ideals, this is what we're striving towards. And we can see it. Even in the broken relationships, we can see that there's a different way of knowing depending on how close your relationship is, because it's how the two people are willing to be towards each other. They're not always going to succeed. But if there's a willingness, there's going to be a deeper openness. So coming back to our relationship with God and our covenant, God has to be willing to be open to us. When we're sinners before God, how do we know him? We know him as the angry, betrayed judge, rightly angry, who is coming to judge us. But when we know him as Father, we can see his mercy and his love. When we know him, he takes on the image of husband and wife as well as brother. When we come into that covenantal relationship, which is so complex, we get to know him in ways we couldn't outside of the covenant relationship, which means we've got to consciously recognize that this is what we're in so that we can know God properly. Until we realize we're in that kind of relationship, we're going to be misunderstanding God, misunderstanding the relationship between us and God, misunderstanding what he's trying to show us. You could stand over there saying, coffee is the best drink in the world, and I could choose to interpret you allegorically. Well, clearly he doesn't mean coffee. He's just using that as a stand in for caffeinated beverages. And he definitely means tea. I've missed you. I haven't come to know you, your love of coffee, because I've chosen to misinterpret you. I've chosen the wrong relationship. [00:39:34] Speaker A: What strikes me what you're saying is that compared to like, a cold deism, right, God is creator, and that's about it. Christian theism. Christianity teaches that God wants us to know him, right? And I think about, like in John One, talking about the word became flesh, but talking about Christ is he has explained God, right? I think it uses that word explained. Or then later in Colossians, the image of the invisible God. Ultimately it's through the sending of Christ into the world. To be the image of the invisible God is this very definitive sign that God wants us to know him. Right? And then also, obviously, death in the cross, resurrection as payment for our sins. We understand that. But just a God who doesn't want to be known doesn't send his son into the world, so that to reveal who God is. Correct. And then I think further on about Scripture. So if you could talk about these things like, God wants us to know him, wants to be known. So then how do we know him practically right now? [00:40:48] Speaker B: Practically. Okay, so I'm going to start where you left off. That's the context. [00:40:53] Speaker A: Okay. [00:40:54] Speaker B: The context is that deep desire, that longing to be known that led to death and pain and mortality and sending his son into the world, that puts the rituals into a context, because it's not just a ritual we do to control God. It's something he's told us to do for our own good as long as we do it as whole people. So how do we practically do it? Well, we need to go back to Scripture and look over the rituals again as a community. Okay, what does this actually mean for us as persons? How are these things changing us? And even before we do that, we can take a look at our own lives and say, okay, what are the other habits or secular rituals, the scripts I've been given by my culture, my society, my family, that don't align, that I've got to get rid of. And it's easy to pick on smartphones and social media, but I'm going to do it because it's easy. So how often do we wake up, roll over? I did it this morning, grabbed my tablet and checked the Internet before I did anything else. It's a habit. But getting rid of those, getting those out of the way and evaluating them, maybe they don't have to go away. Maybe you do have a high availability type job where the first thing in the morning you have to do is roll over and make sure that the world hasn't fallen apart or your part of the world at least hasn't fallen apart. Other parts are doing that whether we're there or not. So I'm not saying that's the thing. There's no set of prescriptions, except we need to be in community and we need to be engaging in those rituals almost as if they were the first time, every time. Does that make sense? Bringing our whole mind. It's not a habit I can just do, but there's this mind body joining of coming before, like, okay, I'm chewing the bread, but it's very easy to chew because I do that multiple times a day and not think about why did God choose bread? [00:43:05] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:43:06] Speaker B: He could have chosen any symbol for his body he wanted. Why did he choose grape juice or wine? He could have chosen any other symbol. Why did he choose eating and drinking? [00:43:14] Speaker A: This is fascinating that you say as if we're doing it the first time. Because I think in my life when I've moved and now I'm attending a different church, the first few times I'm at Sunday morning church in general with everything, with preaching, with communion, I am thinking about it way more than when I've been going to the same church for five years. [00:43:37] Speaker B: It's become habit. [00:43:38] Speaker A: Yeah. And I say this as somebody who's moved a lot in his life, but, yeah, I'm much more mindful. Those first few times that you're in this new setting with different people. Even though the thing. I'm still going to a church where we're participating in the Lord's Supper, I'm still going to a church where the word is being preached, we're praying. All of those elements are still the same because my context has changed. All of a sudden, I'm thinking about it in a different way, and it's less habit and it's more purposeful. [00:44:05] Speaker B: Yeah. And by paying attention, which, going beyond just mindfulness. You said mindful. Yeah, going beyond mindfulness. Mindfulness tends to be inward focused to what I'm doing, but attention, giving your mindfulness to someone else, that makes sense to the ritual of the bread and the cup, to the ritual of prayer, to the sermon or to the person you're having fellowship with in a way that says, hey, we're part of a family. Maybe I need to check in on someone on things that matter to the family, not just how was your week? Or man, bummer about the bears. [00:44:46] Speaker A: It's always a bummer about the bears. [00:44:47] Speaker B: It's always a bummer about the bears. I lived in Chicago for ten years, so I feel like I got to follow them. [00:44:54] Speaker A: Yeah, but checking in on really, like how is your walk with the Lord going? I mean, again, coming back to these kind of Christianes things, but now putting them in the proper context, in this understanding of covenant with God, in relating to God through community and maybe giving some more meaning to that, checking in and maybe knowing one of your church family members, they might struggle in a certain area, they might have different issues in life going on and being attentive to that. So rather than that inward mindfulness, that outward paying attention to my family, what's going on around me, I think this is really good. We could probably keep going, but we should wrap up there, at least for now. But thanks for coming on. [00:45:40] Speaker B: David, thank you so much. [00:45:41] Speaker A: Thank you. [00:45:45] Speaker B: Thank you for listening to concerning him an Emma's podcast. US ministries like concerning him are possible because of the generous contributions from our partners around the world. For more information about partnering with us, please visit Emmaus.edu partner.

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