Where are you? Where are you going? The key to relationships…

zacchaeus-in-a-treeWhen the authors of the Bible, especially the gospels, want to tell you something about a person, they speak less about who or what they are and point to where they are. Consider the Bible characters and what you know about their locations. The major characters have tell-tale locations: Zacchaeus up a tree (Luke 19), the demoniac in the tombs (Mark 5), the lepers on the outside of town (Luke 17), the woman at the well in the middle of the day (John 4), Nicodemus who comes at night (John 3), Herod in Jerusalem (Matthew 2), Lazarus in his tomb (John 11), the disciples behind locked doors (John 20), Thomas away from the other disciples (John 20), Peter and the other disciples returning to their boats (John 21). The list is not all-inclusive but enough to illustrate how the gospels use locations to tell us about people and how Jesus paid attention to location noting not only where people were but where they were relative to others. For example, it is not just that Zacchaeus is up a tree, but he is up a tree away from the others.

Consider not only the language of the gospel writers, but of the common speech we use daily. We describe our affection for others as well as the challenge of relationships using location and distance metaphors:.

  I have a special place in my heart for you.
  She is my closest friend.
He’s out of touch.

  She’s out of reach.
  He needs room to grow.
She’s an outsider.

  Politically, you are on the far right.
  You’re definitely to the left of me.
  You’re outside the lines.
  You’re on the edge of trouble.

Jesus encounters people where they are, but he doesn’t leave them there. The focus is on movement. As simple but crucial word in the gospels is the two letter, GO. Go is essential to the Christian faith, Jesus great commission was to “Go into all the world.” Where as you might not be able to tell it in the language of churches today, Jesus only uses the word build 11 times in the gospels. However the word go is used more than ten times for a total of 111 uses. Jesus also uses a form of the word send 150 times. A lot of  Going is not only part of our life with God but with each other and is central to our basic quality of life no matter how advanced in years we may be. My favorite of the early psychologists, Alfred Adler said, Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.
We also use movement metaphors:

We are going in circles.
We are growing distant.
You drive me crazy.
You move too fast.
You’ve slowed down a lot.
  You’ve come home.
You found me.

Psychology of Jesus FRONT Cover 20141Remember, far more often than believe in the gospel and in the quality of our relationships is how well we go and can cross the divides that separate us. Jesus said over and again to his followers, Go because unless someone moves, nothing changes. For more on the distance and movement in relationships, check out The Psychology of Jesus