Try to find a fictional book that isn’t about relationships. Man-verses-nature stories, like Cast Away or The Martian, where the hero fights to survive in isolation, might come to mind. However, in both movies, the struggle was to return to their friends and loved ones and how they handled the absence of personal interaction. In Cast Away, Chuck Nolan (played by Tom Hanks) forms an attachment to a volleyball he calls Wilson because he’s so desperate for connection.
The need for relationships even trumps the need for survival, which is why Chuck sails out on a sketchy raft of his own making even though he’d learned to survive on a deserted island. It’s also why Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) risks death by puncturing his suit to propel himself toward the rescue spacecraft. God created us to be social beings, and we were made for relationships. Interconnection is part of the great commandment, Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourselves.
My friend, Kristen Carlson, pointed out to me in Mark 6:5 the extent to that Jesus treasured relationships. While Jesus’s healings and miracles wow us, they’re secondary compared to His true purpose. Mark 6:5 states, “And he [Jesus] could do no mighty work there [His hometown, Nazareth], except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.” Healing sick people wasn’t the mighty work. The mighty work was drawing people to God and having a real relationship with him.
The word except in the passage is like a shrug, so He just laid hands on a few sick and healed them. It reads as if mere healings were settling for something lesser. Jesus’s aim was on eternity, not on the here and now. It’s easy to focus on the ache and pain that plagues us at the moment and turn a blind eye to the malnourished souls that are perishing. 1 John 3:1 dares us to, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
Unlike Chuck Nolan’s wife in Cast Away, whose fiancée remarried, or Mark Watney’s crew teasing him about his stench, God spreads His arms wide, ready to lavish His love on his beloved children and welcome them home.
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