Knowing me in you

November 22, 2009

For a long time now I’ve marveled at how relationships seem to find their foundation in the most mundane of times.  Sitting around playing games or something.  Do it for long enough and your circle of friends will be seriously renovated.  A couple things recently–things I’ve read, heard and experienced–might finally be bringing some clarity in to this.

Tim Chester said something that caught my attention when he said this:

“In the triune God the one and the many are perfectly held together…God’s plurality does not compromise his unity nor does his unity compromise his plurality.  He is not one in a way that he cannot be three.  He is not three in a way that he cannot be one.  And the key is that divine personal is defined in relational terms…God is persons in community and human personhood too is in the image in the triune God and therefore defined in relational terms.  You can no more be a relation-less person than you can be a childless mother or a fatherless son…Who I am is defined in relation to other people.” (beginning around the 33rd minute of this message)

In stories, characters who tell us things about the main characters have come to be called “foil characters”, and in some sense all of us are foils to other characters in the stories we all inhabit.  In the words of C.S. Lewis,

“By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald” (The Four Loves)

Personally I have been reflecting on this and it has been slowly working its way in to reality.  My being is both that which is called from me in relation to other people and that which is created in my interactions with other people.


"Because you've given so much of yourself to the company that you don't have anything left we can use."

Slowly I think I am really coming to believe that I too am known in my relationships.  I am not who I am because I am a success or because I know the things I know, etc.  What this means is that my value no longer rests in what I produce or what I know.  My value rests in my relations, which is of course essentially the Law-Gospel juxtaposition as well, here my value is in Christ rather than my obtaining righteousness by the law.


Drawing the focus back a bit, I wonder how this impacts my understanding of Church.  We are who we are together not because of what we do but because of whose we are and our relationship with him.  I wonder that this is why Leonard Sweet should say this about church and “going”:

The church doesn’t ‘go’ into the world and take the church there.  The church ‘goes into the world to discover itself there.  The church isn’t ‘sent’ into the world merely to bless or even to ‘be a blessing to the nations.’  The church is ‘sent’ to be Jesus.  Jesus is the blessing.  As we incarnate Jesus in the world, we will find ourselves doing things he did, even ‘greater things.’ ” (So Beautiful, 61)


One Response to “Knowing me in you”

  1. Ralph Osgood Says:

    Reminds me a little bit of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit.

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