For those who are not in the know, in a lot of youth church culture, there is this thing called “DTR”, or Defining The Relationship. Usually this is taking place when a couple is discussing the boundaries and definition of their relationship. Let’s play a game of “DTR”, but in a different relational context.
Let’s say you have this friend, we’ll call him Anthony.
Now you know Anthony, you’ve known Anthony for a long, long time. You’ve shared many laughs, the occasional beer, many nights discussing the things of life and the world. He has a few kids, a wife and a good suburban type of life.
Got that picture in your head? Good.
Now, let’s say that every time you are around Anthony’s kids you’ve noticed something…odd. They seem content with their goings on in life, sure, but as you listen to them and observe them, you notice how much they talk about needing to be around Anthony. They use words like “thirsty”, “hungry” and “desperate” to describe their need for their father. When Anthony surprises them or does something unexpected, it’s like they haven’t seen him in years. “Daddy came home this evening! It was awesome!” Doesn’t Anthony come home every night? He still lives there, right?
It just doesn’t sit right with you, you know Anthony.
You know he loves his kids, you’ve seen him spend time with them. You’ve heard the countless stories of things they do together, from everyday life to family vacations. The children’s words scream of neglect, emotionally and physically. Their words beg the question of the health of their real relationship with Anthony. Do they not know? Do they not understand? Is Anthony not who you thought he was?
On the one hand, you’ve seen Anthony sacrifice time, money, blood, sweat and tears for his children.
On the other hand, you see his children act like they rarely get to talk to, interact with and be with their father. They act more like orphans than they do children!
Define this relationship that Anthony has with his children. It’s not right, whatever it is, huh?
What if you were speaking with Anthony about this and he acknowledged the issue. He’s known about it for years but that’s just how they act, no matter what he has done or continues to do, the children still act like that. He’s done all that he could to communicate and demonstrate how loved they are. Little did you know, but Anthony is pretty well off financially and only works a little each day from home and the rest of the time he spends with his wife and kids. Anthony has done all he can do, but they just don’t get it.
A bit abnormal, isn’t it? A bit over the top, to be sure.
This is the best picture I can paint regarding the people of the Institution and their relationship with God.
They are desperate for him. Hungry for him. Thirsty for him. They are surprised when “God shows up”. They yearn to be around him but are never satisfied. Despite all he has done to communicate and demonstrate his love… Despite all the encouragement that they need not feel empty, hungry, thirsty or desperate… They keep acting that way.
Ears to hear?