Have you ever introduced someone you love to someone else you love? The conversation might go a little bit like this:
"Joe, this is my friend, Stella. She's the one who helped me through my last year of university."
"And Stella, this is Joe - he's like my second dad..."
And so forth.
Have you ever been to a truly loving wedding or anniversary or graduation or special event, and your friend says, "Oh! I've been wanting you two to meet for a long time..." The next question usually is, "So how do you know the groom/bride/birthday girl?"
The details of the answer to these questions is key: you love people for the ways they connect to you, and what you have meant to one another. You treasure them and your shared experiences, and like treasure, you want to ensure that others who meet them know what they mean, how valuable their friendship is to you.
We all have people in our lives who we treasure, who have stood with us in hard times, who fill our lives with joy and fullness.
When I read the scriptures from Exodus and 1 Peter, I get the same kind of feeling about how God relates to us and wants us to relate to one another:
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession..." (Exodus 19:4-5)
He treasures us and He has chosen us to be a people, his people:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:8-10)
My dear friend Christine (she's a fabulous poet - I'd love for you to meet her) wrote a phenomenal poem last year about the long lists of names in Genesis. It completely changed my understanding of what they meant. Far from being a dry, ancient, irrelevant roll call, Christine reimagines that list on the lips of God a little more like this: "These are my friends - people I loved - there's Kenan, and Mahalalel and Jared, and of course, Enoch, and yeah - how I could I forget about Tubal-Cain? He's the guy that..." Her poem depicts God savouring each name as he makes his list, lingering over it and loving that person - they are mentioned, remarked upon, remembered.
The thing is, that's a big long list that keeps growing. We're a people - not persons who have been called into relationship with God. Just think of all the people in your life with whom you share the burden of living together. We call one another to be in the light, and have mercy together. Just like those people you love to introduce to one another - God sees us as a treasure to be shared - to declare back to him the praises of our salvation and rescue.
The conversations we have with one another, and all who are being invited into his treasured people might look a little something like this:
"Have you met my friend, Jesus? He healed me and He's been with me through many a dark time."
"And Jesus, this is my dear, dear, friend Sarah. She's been looking for someone like you for awhile - I've been wanting you to meet."
Take some time today to remember that you are part of a people - a people that God treasures, and think about how you can likewise treasure His people - be a part of them, proclaim his mercy and remind one another that we are called together into his wonderful light - and take some time to think about the people you might not want to/don't understand why they're on the list. They are treasured, just like you.