First Third Conversations

Reflection on "Thinking Deeply about Relationship" with Terence Fretheim

by Jerod Petersen, MA Children, Youth, and Family senior at Luther Seminary

Relationships Matter

> See video of Terence Fretheim here

Fretheim stirs the conversation of the room by asking, “What if we didn’t always seek the answer in the prayer, but stopped and valued the communication that is going on with us and God.” Fretheim asks, “What would God’s love mean if he was never affected by the relationship? God is constant and changing in regards to all human relationships.”

I can’t resist how poignant his words are to the entire conversation of this first third conference. Fretheim wisely discerns on this matter of relation when he pondered that God reigns in our lives, He acts in so many ways, and through so many relationships we have with others. In this relationship, and the incarnate relationship He lived out in Christ, God not only delivered us from our sin but so too the effects of sin, and the suffering it causes. What better mentor than one who gives of himself greatly to impact your future. Jesus not only lived to save you from your sin, but also heal you from your hurt, like a fatherly figure, standing in and shaping a young person’s life. He comes to pick you up when you are down, and remind you that space, is given for your own learning. Fretheim states, what kind of parent steps in and fixes every one of their child’s mistakes? That is not parenting.

Fretheim goes on to share that God has placed a “General allowance” in His actions in creation. He rested on the seventh day, so then limiting His actions, and in so doing is He limiting His presence? However, far from coming to our rescue, Fretheim pushes back with yet more questions, noting that the more we know of Christ, the more of a mystery He truly becomes. However, I think this mystery, lived out in the conversation of community, realizes that even in His absence, or our understanding of this, Christ is mentoring us; suffering with us, as we learn from our errors; meeting us in our joys; singing with us in our celebrations; and grieving.

Just as Professor Fretheim ended his lecture, I am reminded that the questions will always outweigh the answers when it comes to God. Nonetheless, I feel that ministry is starting to latch onto the idea that mystery simply fires up mission. If the church has ever been in need of reimagining the Word, even technology may be our best hope at creating a new vehicle for sharing the Promise. A promise of being heirs in the hope of new life, even if it meets us in the relationships we nurture on facebook, or the healing that is found in a text from a friend. God has no boundaries, when ministry is held in tension with his mystery!

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