Direct Relationship

Main Point: Jesus tells the disciples that they will have a new relationship between themselves and God – a direct relationship: “I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.”

New Light: Jesus is now saying in a forthright manner (admitting that previously his speech was indirect, and figurative) that each seeker has an opportunity to consciously access the same relationship with God that he has experienced. This message, simple and pure, is to me the essence Jesus’ teachings.

Truth: This matches my experience, and is one of the reasons I have been drawn to the Quaker tradition – from experience I know that a direct relationship with God is possible, and indeed, is the only authentic relationship that I can imagine.

Implications: As Jesus says in the final lines of this scripture, no matter where you are, scattered across the world, just as he is not alone because he is with God, likewise we are. Jesus acknowledges, that, yes there will be troubles, but seated within your heart is God, and this is a promise, or rather a certain potential, of great peace. This is not an intellectual matter – though historically God seemed to have been masked behind the facade of an intellectual endeavor. (Perhaps this is still true to some degree…)

Problems: I find the similar problems with these passages as others have mentioned. The way this scripture reads, it is as though a change is occurring – that up until now a direct relationship was not possible, but after the resurrection, if one trusts in Jesus and believes he was sent by God, that person could be promised this direct relationship. As David noted, it is as though a “a genuine transfer of spiritual authority appears to be taking place here.” I would argue that this direct connection with God for everyone has always been possible, indeed is happening, and has always been happening, and has little if anything to do with Jesus. I say this because of Jesus’ teachings – that God is within us, and loves us unconditionally (even the condition of loving Jesus). However, that being said, when one feels in a very real way that mystical love emanating one’s very existence, from this ‘isness’ we call God, our love will not stop – and will encompass Jesus as wholly as everyother lover of God.


8 responses

  1. Hurrah, Meredith; I couldn’t agree with you more. Jesus has never meant to exclude anyone from that direct relationship with God. I feel sure he foresaw that others would have similar experiences to his, with or without knowing anything about the historical Jesus.We have to begin, as you expressed it, with God’s unconditional love for everyone. Knowing that makes the world so much better a place.

  2. Hi Meredith :-). You siad …I would argue that this direct connection with God for everyone has always been possible, indeed is happening, and has always been happeningI agree. I think God must be connected to everything/everyone he’s created.

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  4. I have always had trouble with the notion of unconditional love. Not that it isn’t a fine ideal to reach for. I’m just not overly happy with how it gets used in real life.I’m not convinced that finite being with limited capacities to do all sorts of things — including love — are able to love unconditionally and I think asking that of folks is sometimes asking too much. It sia recipe — paradoxically — for feelings of guilt. I also think it obscures the fact that different people need to be loved in different ways. And that loving is possible even as we set limits and expectations on people.Behind most calls for unconditional love is a story of somebody who didn’t get loved in they wayu they wanted at the time — which may actually be a different critter to withholding love or setting conditions.Sometimes I love but am just too tired, crank or distracted to express it as I might.

  5. Meredith:The “isness that we call God” is not welcomed as such by some Quakers. Last night in a frank and creative discussion of a pamphlet by Douglas Steere what I call the language of Zion, or God-talk came forth. One member of the group, one of the best Christians I know professed to have trouble with the word god. I feel like he was opening the door for another Friend who expressed disappointment that the pamphlet had nothing about the Quaker testimonies. It was largely about Douglas’ relationship to God. In the ensuing discussion it became clear that many other words are used to express at least similar realities. I was so happy in the group exchange to see the question of “christocentric and non-christocentric viewpoints shared with so much love. In fact I proposed to post to my blog about it, but perhaps this will do instead.David, I’m not sure that I’ve ever known anybody who I thought was loving unconditionally.

  6. I guess that’s my point. An impossible goal — like apotheosis I suppose — has its merits but also has its risks.

  7. Re: Unconditional love…I’m not sure we as ‘finite beings with limited capacities’ are able to love unconditionally – but I’m sure that God is able to. And as I imagine and feel this love of God, and feel so intricately connected to this ‘isness’, I find myself with increasing capacities to love. This love is not in the realm of what I even thought about before – for example as having conditions and limitations. This way of loving, this feeling of love, goes far beyond our cultural norms, to include those I barely even know, and those our cultura would actually restrict me from loving. Recently I read this definition of consecration: “Consecration is a dedication to divinity. It means consciously participating in love, intentionally opening ourselves to accept the divinely given gift. Obviously, it means that we must trust more in grace than in our personal capabilities. To say yes to love, we must trust enough or risk enough to be willing to enter love.” I am certain that this kind of love is possible; once you trust this big, and open yourself to be nakedly bathed in divine love, you absorb it, and eventually begin to exude it, and offer it up freely, without any limitation or condition. To look into the eyes of another, and hold this feeling of love for them simply because they are beings in the light just as you are, is to love unconditionally. It is not difficult, it is not a matter of should or ought – it is just pure, it is authentic and warm, it is loving as you are loved by/in God.

  8. Unconditional love … I think that’s the kind of love God has for us. I do think also that some people can approximate that love too, occassionally. Parents come close at times with the way they love their children and there are many instances of people sacrificing themselves for others, which I think qualifies as a love that gives but expects nothing in return.

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