When I was a teenager, I had a long distance relationship. Back then, there was no FaceTime, texting or SnapChat to get a glimpse of the object of my affection. We wrote letters, mailed them and waited expectantly for these handwritten love notes to arrive at the post office. I pined away for this person and could not wait for school breaks. My parents, grandparents and school teachers would say, "It's ok to miss someone, don't you know that absence makes the heart grow fonder?"
I began to hate that platitude. Truth be told, I was lonely and felt like I had no friends. I believed no one understood me and that this person was all I had in the world. Now that I am a little bit older and hopefully a little bit wiser, I know those old folks were right. When someone or something you love is far away and out of sight, our love and desire grows. I believe this is true not only of teenage romance but our faith walk.
The other day I came across 1 Peter 1:8-9 which says, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." These verses reminded me of the nice little saying I once hated and I smiled. Though I don't see Jesus, I fall in love with Him more and more and can not wait until I see Him face to face.
Peter wrote this letter to exiles; Jesus followers who had been spread across the known world by way of persecution. The early church grew and spread across the world by way of violence, hate and misunderstanding. Some people believed the early Christians were crazy, cannibals because they spoke of eating Christ's blood and body in the taking of communion. People who chose to love and follow Jesus were chased across the globe, no doubt feeling lost and lonely. They were missing the ones they loved and needed to catch a glimpse of the One they loved.
I am thankfully part of a growing and thriving church. I do not experience physical threat because I am a Christian. I am free to worship how I wish. I am very thankful for my freedom but sometimes I feel lonely in my walk and alone in the world. The culture and the political climate can make one feel as though they are being chased and pushed away.
God's word is the supreme encouragement. Stay strong and keep your mind on Him. Though we don't see Jesus, we continue to love Him and bask in the joy of His life giving love. No matter what the culture looks like and no matter who takes political office, think on the one who sits on the throne. When we lose friendships or are mistreated for our faith, we can pray to Him as if we were writing that love letter and putting it expectantly in the mail. And while we may not yet see Christ face to face, we can be His hands and feet here on earth so others will know this long distance relationship is worth it. It's not quite correct to declare Christ absent. He repeatedly taught the disciples that when He left the earth He would send a helper. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and all who believe receive the spirit into their hearts.
Sometimes the love note Christians write says, "Come, Lord Jesus" when things gets hard or they feel lonely in the world. The truth is, He's here and He's in us. So while the physical absence causes our love and devotion to grow stronger; we must not ignore the Holy Spirit in us which is meant to draw others to Him.