One could argue that there is nothing better than friendship, and indeed it was God who made us in His own image. He made us for relationships. Jesus Christ made it very clear that there is only one God, but he never introduced God to the world as some solitary, lonely individual. Rather, Jesus, God the Son, served to introduce God the Father and God the Holy Spirit to people like you and me. One God, three persons, perfectly united in relationship. Complicated, but I think we get an inkling of this reality in a marriage where two become one.
But this article is not meant to be an exposition of the triune God as important as that may be. In this short conversation with the community I love, it’s my desire to highlight that all of us were made for relationships and that I am thankful for them. Indeed in the opening chapters of the Bible it was the declaration by God that it is not good for a person to be alone.
As good as God’s intentions for relationships are, there is no doubt that disappointment can strike relationships.
There are those disappointments that come with the uglier side of our humanity, where sin defaces what was meant to be so good, marring the image of God we were created to be. Thankfully God has offered to those who would receive it the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. That is indeed an awesome moment of relationship restoration.
There is of course the disappointment, indeed the grief, of death that separates relationships. Thankfully Jesus Christ offered hope for the reunion of such relationships in His resurrection from the dead. What a relational gift Jesus is to us all. What a promise for the person who has faith in Jesus Christ that our relationships need not end with a grievous full stop.
There is a relational disappointment in which no one is really to blame, where the distance of relationship is insurmountable, and that’s when a loved one moves on to a new location. Decisions are made. Sometimes it’s family reasons, sometimes work, and sometimes just a need for a change. There is nothing wrong with those decisions, but both those who leave and those who are left can experience the disappointment of separation. Our disappointment at such times is a reminder that we were made for relationships and that there is nothing better. Indeed, even the shortest of relationships can offer us something really special without which our lives would be impoverished. I am certainly thankful for all the friendships I have enjoyed.
That’s where the Bishop of the Armidale Anglican Diocese finds himself. For personal, family and work reasons, I have, with my wife, decided to resign my position as Bishop and to return to a ministry in a church south of Sydney. It is a happy move back into a pastoral context for which I hanker, but one in which I feel significant disappointment for the leaving of the relationships I have shared across our region.
I will keep writing articles for the paper till the end of November and then the Dean of the Cathedral or my successor will continue to offer helpful contributions to encourage people to think and to love and to honour the God with whom relationship is most important.
To all who have found my articles at time objectionable, I thank you for reading them and offer my apologies if I have cause undue hurt or offence. I obviously can’t apologise for the stating the truth but I must if I state the truth in ways that were unloving. To all those who have loved the regular contribution and offered encouragement, I thank you also. But to both – to those who find my articles objectionable and to those who love them - I would encourage ongoing conversation together because relationships that are worked at are better than those that are not.