Archive for May, 2010

Having a Relationship with God

Posted: May 19, 2010 by Nathan in What Next...
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Getting the right perspective.

Many people at times fall into the trap of confusing knowing God and knowing about God. I know I’ve done it – thought I’d been getting to know God better and yet all I was doing was learning more about Him.  I even went off to Bible College with the aim of getting to know God better only to find out it was all about learning about Him and what others have said about him.  However the two things are very much interlinked. I know a little about Australia, I don’t know it at all as I’ve never been there.  However, if I were to go there I would increase my knowledge about it before I went in order to make the most of getting to know it whilst there.  What I mean is I would read up about Australia before I went to make sure I saw the best sites, visited a good range of places and saw all that I wanted to see. Likewise with God we know about Him before we know Him.  We read His word, talk to people who know Him, we are taught by our churches about Him before we get to know Him.

Getting to know about God is a lot easier than getting to know God. Getting to know about God is a case of learning, getting to know God is a case of relationship.

Knowing about God

It’s good to get to know a little about God before we attempt to get to know Him.  Why is this important? Forming a relationship with God is not the easiest thing you will do – after all relationships are difficult things. The more we know about God the easier we will find it to know Him.  If I were expecting an important business call from someone on the other side of the world I would want to know as much about this person as possible. I wouldn’t want to be thrown by them not speaking English or being an intern when I was expecting the boss.  The Bible shows us how God communicates. 1 Kings 19:11-13 tell us that God didn’t speak in the earthquake or the fire but in a gentle voice. If we do not know about God we may assume that he will speak to us in one way and miss the other ways in which he speaks.

Knowing God

As I said before, knowing God is about relationship. So how do you build relationship and is building a relationship with God any different from building one with those around us?

Keys to building relationship

1. Contact

Let’s face it it’s pretty difficult to form a relationship without contact.  It doesn’t have to be face-to-face, though that may help. The same is true with God we can’t start to form a relationship with Him unless we have contact with Him, spend time in His presence.

2. Communication

One of the main things that will help a relationship grow is good communication. With God that is done through talking to Him and listening to Him.  It’s what we call prayer and is a vital part of getting to know God.  It isn’t easy and takes some getting used to, but is worth persevering with.

3. Common ground

In most relationships that flourish there is an element of common ground.  You talk about things that interest each of you and discuss things that are important to you.  With God it is no different.  A lot of the common ground that you share is you.  God loves you and is very interested in you, what you think and how you are feeling.  God wants to know about you even more than you want to know about God.  God created you and knows all about you yet loves to hear you talk about yourself, what your worries are and what you like to do.

4. Commitment

With humans one of the ultimate signs that a relationship is going well is to commit to each other.  With a male/female relationship this commitment may take the form of getting married.  It’s a sign that both people make to show their commitment. God is wholly committed to you, so much so that He sent His Son to die for you so that you may be reconciled back to Him.  God longs for us to be committed to Him. He know our hearts and knows when we are committed to Him, but we might make an outward sign of commitment to Him by being baptised or confirmed or giving a public declaration of faith.

5. Continuity

If we had a friend who visited us every day for weeks on end and then one day just stopped coming round we’d think something was wrong. So it is with God.  He is constantly their for us but we tend to blow hot or cold.   We go through good stages where we seek him regularly but then life crowds in and we forget about him, our prayer life falters and our bible gathers dust. We need to try and be consistent in our relationship with God.

6. Compromise

In order for most serious relationships to work there needs to be some level of compromise.  Many of us like to get our own way but in relationship with others something has to give. I remember in the first few months of our relationship my wife and I had to work out what areas of our lives needed compromise. It wasn’t the easiest of things to do but we know that to work as a couple there were areas of our individual lives that we needed to change. This sounds very heavy but all I mean is that, for example, spending time with each other meant spending less time with our own friends.  We both wanted to spend time together and in order to do that we had to compromise in the times we saw others.  It wasn’t a big deal but for the relationship to work it had to be done.

With God the compromise is slightly different and can come across as slightly unfair but it is anything but that.   God is perfect, all His ways are good and just. He is all powerful and all knowing and all loving. He made the ultimate compromise in sending His son to die for all the wrong we have ever done and will ever do. Now it is our turn to respond. We have to remember that God always has our interests at heart.  Any changes in our lives that he wants us to make are for the good of ourselves.  God loves and accepts us just the way we are but for our own good He doesn’t want us to stay that way. If we want a good relationship with God there are changes in our lives that we will need to make. If you kept giving sound advice to a friend who constantly ignored it you would still love them but it wouldn’t do much to enhance your relationship.

Through all of the above we can begin to develop a relationship of love with God. It takes time and effort on our part.  It is an ever changing journey that will continue for the rest of your life.  It will, of course, have it’s ups and downs.  You will have days when you think you’ve cracked it and days when you feel like your right back at the very beginning.

So How does this Relationship Start?

Any relationship has to have a firm foundation or BASE!

B Believe in God and what the Bible states about Him, that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and that He came to earth in human form as Jesus.

Genesis chapter 1 verse 1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 10:9

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

A  Accept what God has freely offered you – forgiveness of all your wrongdoings and eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not by yourselves, it is the gift of God – not through works, so no-one can boast.

S Switch to following God’s pathway for your life

Ephesians 5: 8-9

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of Light. (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.)

E Entrust your life to Jesus Christ and His direction.

Colossians 2: 6-7

So, then, just as you received Jesus Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted  and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.

Most of us spend a little of our time being unsatisfied, discontented with our lot.  When we’re were children we wanted to be teenagers, when we reached our teenage years we wanted to be all grown up adults and when we finally reached adulthood we long to be young again. The rise in the cosmetic surgery industry and the multi million dollar cosmetics industry bear witness to the fact that many people don’t like the way they look.  People who are unemployed long to have a job, those in employment long for a better job and those in top jobs long to retire.  It’s a vicious circle to which there is no end. We must remember that when it comes to the rat race, even if you win, you’re still a rat!!

Many of us live with a “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality. We’re always looking to improve our lives, earn more, look better, be happier, live longer, get married, have children and be the perfect family.  We’re constantly seeking for something else, something better. The words of U2 ring true for many people “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.  Our lives seem to be a constant search for something. Happiness? Fulfilment? Money? Contentment? Love? Peace? Success? Fame? Many people are looking for more.  Yet, even when they achieve more, earn more, gain more, find more it tends to be not enough.  John D. Rockefeller the then richest man in the world when asked once, “How much money is enough money?” replied, “Just a little bit more.”  We live in a dissatisfied state even when things are going really well.  We have a nagging feeling that there must be more to life than this, whatever “this” may be at the time.

Life can be great.  We live in a beautiful world full of wonder and grandeur and mystery.  Many of us have great family and friends and most of the time we enjoy living.  However, life can be tough, friends and family die, we lose our job, we get ill and we suffer terribly from all sorts of things. That’s not to mention the people we share our planet with, millions of whom die each year from disease and hunger.  They are born into suffering, they suffer continuously and they die. Surely there has to be more to life than this? If we believe that we began in some sort of explosion and developed from primeval slime, if we are just the evolved state of apes what is there to live for?  If we truly believe that we come from apes we will treat each other as no more than over developed apes.  Surely we as humans are more than that and indeed deserve more than that?

If you truly believed that what we see, what we can prove, what we can touch and feel was all there was to this life, how would you feel?  If there was more to life than this, something to give some meaning and purpose to our lives wouldn’t you want to explore the possibility? If you received a letter saying that you had won the lottery, even though you never entered, wouldn’t you want to do a bit of research to find if it might be true?  However unbelievable the claim wouldn’t it be worth you looking into it, just in case it was true? Millions of people around the world believe there is more to life than what is seen, provable, touchable. Millions of Christians have faith that there is more to life than this.  This faith is not a blind faith, it is a faith that says “I’ve looked at the evidence, I’ve weighed up the information, I have experienced things for myself and now I have decided”.  I am on a journey of faith, a journey of discovery. The more I search, the more I find.  The Bible tells us that if we seek we will find, if we knock on the door of faith it will be opened to us.  Is there more to life than this?  I believe so. Over the coming weeks and months our plan is to unpack this faith a little.  If there is more to life than this, what does it look like, consist of, mean to us?  We’d love for you to join us on this journey of discovery.  Feel free to ask questions and also feel free is disagree.  We’d love to hear what you find useful and what you don’t.  We hope our posts will make you think and be a springboard for you in your search.  Our hope is that you will walk a while with us and see where we all get to. Until the next What If…? Wednesday, keep seeking.