I’ve had a few continuing relationships with EMTs. I’m referring to the people who show up and go all out when they believe an emergency is in progress, but have little or no involvement in my normal, daily life. Some EMTs are relatives, some are strangers, some are Christians, but none are close friends. That’s my point.
EMTs have genuinely good intentions and are frequently sacrificial, but I’ve come to realize the real enjoyment for them is not in me as a person, but more in the act of trying to rescue me (needed or not). It’s a subtle difference initially, but it becomes more obvious as time passes. They may have time to help, but they don’t have time to spend. They may focus on my problem, but they fail to focus on me. EMTs aren’t evil, they just objectify relationships into tasks and unintentionally devalue others in the process.
God isn’t like that. At the outset of the human experience, you find record that God allowed time for personal relationships to develop and be enjoyed. There was nothing more pressing. He visited with us regularly and in a way that was primarily about enjoying our company; not about task. This arrangement probably continued for a number of years (or decades) before the fruit incident, yet there is no record of “all the important things that God taught them and did for them” during that time; only the quiet sense of a growing, mutual relationship. Remember also that his ultimate valuation of us was “good” – not in the moral sense, but in the sense of being satisfied with something that you truly value and enjoy.
Nor is Jesus like that. We often focus on his EMT role, but let’s get real: that task was accomplished in three days – or 3 years, if you also count time spent healing physical bodies. Either way, that’s only a fraction of the time he spent with us. Why spend time on Earth growing up, let alone wasting more than a decade of his adult life? Why retain human form once the job was accomplished? Why plan on spending eternity with us in a relationship likened to an unending, joyful marriage?
The most important reason for all this has only recently occurred to me. He is making it clear that he enjoys us. We were not his pet project. He wasn’t constantly grimacing and re-sanitizing himself in our presence. He didn’t go to the cross for an ego boost, or to look better in the eyes of God. His was not merely a love to rescue us, but love that utilized the EMT role as means to achieve true relationship. He endured the cross for the sake of the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2), the joy of reclaiming unimpeded intimacy with us, as in the beginning, yet now infinitely deeper.
So yes, play the part of the EMT from time to time, but please enjoy the people around you, and you will impart joy to them in the process. It may take practice and there will be problems, but herein is the strength you may have missed; herein is the strength they need; herein is Jesus.