Biblical Tips On Relationships:
Can you describe your relationship with God?
I spent four months of my life traveling across American talking to people about their relationship with God. In general, people enjoyed talking about the human relationships in their lives. When discussing their children, spouse, friends, or other family members, their voices became animated with some kind of emotion, positive and negative. They also loved giving their opinions about God. But, when asked about a “personal” relationship with God, I would see them stiffen. I would watch as people stood straighter, stared off in a distance and began their speech. The expression, “talking from the head and not the heart” often came to mind. To my dismay, this was equally true for Christians and non-Christians. Most people were more comfortable talking about philosophies, opinions, or information than discussing a “personal” relationship with God.
Is a relationship with God too “personal” to discuss? Maybe. But these very same people shared exceedingly personal things with me. When pushed, most would admit that their relationship with God was not particularly “personal.”
I asked one woman about her relationship with God. “God is much bigger than Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism,” was the opinionated response. There is certainly no shortage of opinions about God. Other answers included:
“He came to earth and died for my sins.” Often words to very familiar hymns came to mind. I resisted the urge to request a solo.
The most popular answer was, “I am a Catholic.” (or Baptist, Presbyterian, non-denominational…)
“God has many names.” “Names” was always drawn out with the pitch falling off. I would usually prompt, “and what name do you call him?”
Another very popular answer was, “I am spiritual but not religious.”
Many would brag, “I am active in my church” or “I read the Bible continually.” I usually resisted the urge to get competitive. I too am active in my church.
Some would tell me that, “God is for people who need a crutch.” My retort to that is, “I prefer to call them wings.”
“I have given up on formal religion,” was usually said with a head toss. “My parents go to church” was usually meant to indicate they felt more enlightened than their parents. “I was raised in church but no longer go,” was usually followed by a guilty “tsk” or silent headshake.
When I heard, “God is in the universe, wind, mountains, or (fill in the blank),” I would wait and sure enough, they would look around. I never could get a definition of “I am god and he is me” but I heard it more than once.
I was surprised at how many people grouped Gandhi, Jesus, Mohamed, and Moses all in one category. I almost sensed an air of intellectual superiority in the people that told me, “We have something to learn from all of them.”
If you are a Christian, do not start feeling too smug. I sensed an air of intellectual superiority when I heard Christian’s “religion-bashing” comments on the beliefs and actions of religions different from their own. I spent an entire worship service listening to a “non-denominational” church “denomination” bash. My denomination was definitely out of favor in this fellowship. I was afraid to fill out the visitor’s card and tell them the name of my church.
Sadly, most answers I received about God were intellectual. Every once in a while, I would meet someone whose eyes lit up the same way a grandmother’s eyes light up when talking about their grandchild. Whey they described their God, their voices were full of love, hope, and freedom.
Is your relationship with God intellectual or personal?
If you want your relationship to be more “personal,” you are not alone. The Bible offers help.
Discipline yourself. Spend regular time in prayer, meditation, and Bible Study.
Heb 12:11 The Message
At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Abandon rules and live by grace
Gal 2:21 The Message
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God's grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Stop doing things for God and begin embracing what God arranges for you.
Gal 3:11 The Message
The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.
Live in love: Pray for it. Act “as if” you love. Say the words, “I love you.” Seek love.
1 John 4:7-8 The Message
Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.
Embrace Jesus with your heart and soul. (as opposed to just believing in Jesus.)
1 John 4:15-16 The Message
Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God's Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we've embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.