Relationship with God – A Failed Relationship
Do you have a relationship with God? If so, what is that relationship based upon? In an attempt to explain his relationship with God, man often relies on religion to define his degree of spirituality. Emotions, traditions, and logic play integral parts in formulating his religion. Definitions of morality and immortality based on popular beliefs entangle themselves into the tapestry of his religious cloak.
Religion leans heavily upon man’s righteous efforts. It often requires diligent service and works, in expectation of earning an eternal reward. Through each person’s power of self-motivation, self-control, and self-determination, salvation is hoped for. Inevitably, any shortcomings on the part of the individual result in disappointment, chronic guilt, and ultimately an unfulfilled relationship with God.
“Lots of religious people hold firmly to all kinds of religious ideas—whether right or wrong—for all kinds of weak and apparently unfounded, or at least unexamined reasons.”1 Unlike religion, a relationship with God comes from His amazing love and grace reaching out to us. It’s always been God’s desire to reveal Himself to us since creation (Romans 1:20). Adam and Eve “heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). In the beginning, God desired an everlasting, loving relationship with man. Adam was made in God’s image then chosen to wisely manage “everything that the breath of life in it.” We were designed for relationships. Therefore, God provided Eve as a companion so Adam could experience an intimate union. But Adam chose to reject and disobey God’s command, producing sin which separated mankind from God (Romans 5:12). Sin brought the breakdown of a relationship with God, resulting in shame and judgment.
Relationship with God – A Restored Relationship
Religion cannot restore our relationship with God again. No human ritual, deed, or sacrifice can provide payment or absolution for our sins. Not a single human being by his own efforts is able to measure up to the glory of God. God’s glory is His splendor, the outward display of His attributes. God desires that we share that splendor, yet our sin prohibits us from experiencing the richness of such a relationship. We might ask, “Why does an omnipotent and supreme God long for a relationship with imperfect, fallen human beings?”
- God chooses us for a special purpose before creation (Ephesians 1:4-5). What God began in the past, He will accomplish and complete in the future. It is His purpose, through His Son Jesus Christ, to make us blameless, without a single blemish.
- God considers us children of a Heavenly Father (2 Corinthians 6:18). When redeemed, we are again sealed into a special relationship with God. While sin can enslave us to the point of fear, believers in Jesus are adopted, receiving the same privileges as natural-born. Christians can approach God through an intimate relationship, even calling Him Father (Romans 8:16).
- God values us as precious treasures, capable of honoring Him with our bodies and spirits. We were bought with a special price—“the precious blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:19).
It is God’s will to save us, establishing an everlasting relationship with Him. Jesus Christ’s voluntary death on the cross provided delivering power, redeeming us. The divine purpose for Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection from the grave was man’s restoration and reconciliation, bringing life through the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
A Personal Relationship with God
Picture the relationship that Jesus shared with His Heavenly Father. Jesus was the only begotten Son of the Father. The relationship the two shared while Jesus was on earth was unparalleled (John 1:14; 6:46; 1 John 4:9). Through Jesus Christ, we experience God’s presence, strengthening our relationship:
- Love – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- Sacrifice – “…But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2).
- Faithfulness – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
- Mercy – “…For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:23–24).
- Peace – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
- Joy – “…We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1–2).
- Eternity – “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28–30).
A personal relationship with God begins with knowing His Son Jesus Christ. Our earthly relationships change. You and I are destined for change. But Jesus is changeless. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. When you draw near to Jesus Christ, you will be changed.
1 Mittelberg, Mark, Choosing Your Faith, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL, 2008, p. 14.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
What do we need to know about God?
God loves us and wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.
God loves us even if we haven’t loved him.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” (1 John 4:10)
God wants us to know him.
The Bible says God is at work in everyone’s life. “So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27)
What is wrong with us?
Our relationship with God has been broken by sin.
We have all made choices showing we are inclined to be passively indifferent to God
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Or actively opposed to God
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
The result of our choices to resist or ignore God results in spiritual death (separation from God).
“We are dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)
“And thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
What did God do for us?
God had provided a solution for our lost relationship.
Jesus Christ came to do what we could not do for ourselves.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in
Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
He came into the world to bring us to his Father.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through Me.’ ” (John 14:6)
He died in our place to pay the penalty for our sin.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,
being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)
He rose from the dead to show that his claims were true.
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according
to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the
Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five
hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.”
(1 Corinthians 15:3-6)
What do we need to do?
We must each personally trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
We must each personally trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Our own efforts to earn God’s acceptance are inadequate.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,
through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)
We must admit our need for forgiveness.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ ” (Luke 18:13)
We must receive Christ and his offer of salvation as a gift.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Where do we begin?
A personal relationship with God begins today.
You can begin your personal relationship with God by putting your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. You may find it helpful to express your new faith in words similar to these:
Dear God, I know that my sin has separated me from You. Thank You for sending Your Son to die in my place. I now trust Jesus to forgive my sins. I invite Him into my life as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for receiving me into Your eternal family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Your trust in Jesus Christ begins an everlasting personal relationship with God.
God’s commitment to you:
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)
God promises to never leave you.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
God has forgiven all of your sins, past, present, and future.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
God has given you His Spirit to enable you to live in a way that pleases Him.
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
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Religion always seems to be the hot topic of the hour. Once mentioned, it’s almost 100% guaranteed to start a facebook comment war, rife with name calling and insults and out of context verses from the bible. I sometimes find myself drawn to these arguments, because who doesn’t need a little cancerous internet drama in their lives now and then, and explain my thought and opinions from a secular point of view. Once I’m accused of being a godless atheist, I reveal that I was raised Catholic and attended church every Sunday from before I can remember until the last Sunday before I went to college. I went to youth group, went to summer camp, and received all my sacraments. I was a bona fide Catholic, but like many young adults suffered a falling out with the church upon leaving home and entering a new environment. However, it was such a large part of my life for so long that elements of my catechism remain with me.
But now, I’m a heathen who persecutes Christians in the Christian nation of America with my secular opinions, I’m an evil woman for thinking other women have the right to murder the unborn they carry, I’m bound for hell because I think gays are entitled to the same principles of marriage that straight people are, and I’m a whore who can’t keep her legs closed because I like sex and think birth control should be more accessible, even in cases where it’s used to treat diseases like Endometriosis and PCOS.
Yes, of course, not all Christians think this way, and I’ve conversed with plenty that feel contrary to such statements. You guys are alright! But there are many that assume these things and more because I do not meet their definition of ‘Christian’, and anyone outside that definition can’t be a true follower of Christ. Well, my relationship with God is none of your business. What definition you give me doesn’t matter, as there are many who talk the talk but few who actually walk the path of Christ, and while talking gets you attention, it’s walking that creates the most impact.
In a fitting passage (and I never quote scripture, like, ever) from Matthew 6:6, he writes “But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” So that’s what I do. When I’m on a long, difficult car ride, I still say a prayer. When something miraculous has happened, I thank God in my mind. When people I love are suffering difficult situations, I keep them in my thoughts and prayers. When I notice a beautiful sunrise or a chain of snow capped mountains, I thank God I get to see it.
So am I a Christian? Probably not to most. Do I care? No. Should you? No, but some of you will care anyway because it’s your mission to conform me to your Christian values, lest my soul burn in the eternities of hell. There are plenty of things I don’t do or believe anymore that set me apart from practicing christians, but it would be impossible for them to know what’s in my heart or on my mind. I’ll carry on being whatever I am, however it changes throughout time, and it will be none of your damn business how it goes.
Purim is the opportune time to work on piercing through the darkness and strengthen your connection to God.
If there is one primary lesson we are to take from the Purim story it’s that even in times of darkness, when God’s face is hidden, He is still here, orchestrating events behind the scenes, moving the pieces towards His ends. Man plans, God laughs. The very thing you thought was going to wipe out the Jews is turned upside down and becomes the vehicle of their salvation.
Purim is the opportune time to work on piercing through the haze and strengthen your connection to God. Here are seven ways you can connect to God, no matter who you are. Atheists are also welcome to give them a shot.
1. See God’s guiding Hand in your life
We’ve all experienced moments of serendipity – how that missed plane led you to meet your spouse. They don’t have to be so dramatic – finding a parking spot in New York City (or anywhere for that matter) can be a moment to feel God’s presence. Since God is One, nothing happens by accident; peel back the veil of nature that masks His presence and you’ll find God behind the curtain. Keep your eye open, and ask your family and friends to share their best stories of Divine providence the next you’re all together.
2. Have a heart to heart with God
Imagine a married couple living under the same roof but never really talking to each other. Unfortunately it happens. And unfortunately that cold detachment can describe many people’s relationship with God. When was the last time you had a real heart to heart with God? Not just recite the words in the prayer book, but tap into your inner core and share your deepest concerns, fears and thanks. Try it (not in public please) and see if you feel more connected to God afterwards.
3. Find beauty
Put down the iPad, the iPhone, the i-whatever and look at gorgeous world around you. When was the last time you took in a breathtaking sunrise or sunset? Cry listening to a piece of music? Be awestruck and the sheer brilliance and wonder of one of your amazing children? Did you see the incredible photos of the Niagara Falls frozen solid? The world is a reflection of God’s Infinite perfection and His fingerprints pervade the universe.
4. Learn Torah wisdom
Imagine getting hold of Einstein’s personal diaries where he lays out all the wisdom he attained in life. We would devour it, getting a glimpse of his great knowledge and feeling a far deeper connection to the man. Imagine getting a hold of God’s personal diaries. The Torah is the blueprint of creation. It’s God’s instruction manual that contains all the secrets of the universe, including life-changing wisdom about marriage, parenting, how to be good and attain meaning. When we learn Torah, we are directly connecting to God, seeing the depth of His wisdom and learning to think how He thinks. It is a series of ongoing eureka moments.
5. Appreciate His gifts to you
Who is more likely to express their genuine appreciation for dinner that your wife (or mother) makes: you or a guest? How many meals has the guest received? How many meals have you received? When we are the recipient of so much ongoing blessings in our life the terrible irony is that we start taking them for granted. Don’t. Appreciation is the bedrock for a loving relationship – with your parents, your spouse, and with God. Don’t be an ingrate. Who gave you your eyes? Your hearing? Your hot coffee this morning? Reconnect all the wondrous gifts you’ve received in your life back to their ultimate Giver, and feel the love that generates.
6. Trust Him
The people you most love are the people you most trust. And vice versa. Think about something that concerns you, that is creating some fear and angst – financial pressures, results from a medical test, the boy your daughter is dating – and let go of the fear and trust God. “Cast your burden on God and he will sustain you” (Psalms, 55:22). Try to feel that God has your back. He’s aware of your difficulty. He has the power to help and He wants to help. Nothing is too big or too small for Him. So drop the worry; it’s all good. God didn’t abandon you; He’s right here holding your hand.
7. Do a Mitzvah
Perhaps the most direct way to connect to God is to perform a mitzvah – give tzedakah, visit someone who is sick, say Shema, mark the Sabbath. The word “mitzvah” comes from the word “tzavta” which means attachment. When we do a mitzvah, a commandment, we are performing with mind, body and soul ratzon Hashem, God’s will, thereby becoming like God and growing closer to Him. Since God is not physical, closeness is measured spiritually. The more we resemble Him by aligning our will to His will, the closer we become to Him.